Elusive French master Claire Denis’s newest drama takes no prisoners.
Claire Denis (France, Masters)
Tuesday, September 10, 9 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 (350 King Street West)
Wednesday, September 11, 3:30 p.m.
Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West)
As its punchy title suggests, Claire Denis’s newest is a bit of an outlier in her filmography, plot-heavy and blunt where films like The Intruder are typically more abstract. All the same, Bastards is clearly the work of an auteur, with its fragmented chronology, sensuous depiction of the body, and evocative score by British band Tindersticks.
Like Denis’s last film White Material, Bastards deals with some seriously thorny family history. It opens with ominous hints of a murder in an apartment complex and a sexual exploitation ring involving a traumatized young woman, who we see walking naked through the streets of Paris in a daze. Without much audience handholding or explanation, the film then follows both stories through their common link, Marco (Vincent Lindon), a lone-wolf sailor who returns to Paris to right the wrongs done to his family by a business tycoon. Even more than the elliptical way in which this complicated story is told, what registers most here is Denis’s righteous indignation against the well-heeled bullies and manipulators addressed by the title, which makes this the cinematic equivalent of a middle finger.