Directed by Claire Denis
Starring Juliette Binoche, Xavier Beauvois, Philippe Katerine, Gérard Depardieu
The great Juliette Binoche proves she’s one of the finest actresses working today with every film role that she takes, but that doesn’t mean every film she’s in is great. Let the Sunshine In, which features Binoche front and centre as Isabelle, a painter who is involved in a variety of relationships with compatible bachelors (and married men), is a story that may resonate with some, if the inane arguments that make up the majority of the dialogue don’t get under your skin.
The film initially shows promise, with these wonderful actors complimented with many close-ups capturing the emotional range on their faces – particularly Binoche’s (of course). This suits the dialogue-heavy scenes of Isabelle and her one-on-ones with her many lovers, dissecting and examining aspects of their relationships and their personality traits.
However, once you’ve seen the first couple of scenes, you’ve seen the entire film. Every scene is a succession of love-making, arguments (ranging from petty to heated), making up, making out, and conserved analyses of such relationships. Isabelle’s interactions from each man don’t seem to change, though it unfortunately doesn’t feel like this film is interested in her sameness with each partner, but is simply indulging in its own time-wasting sequences of chatter revolving around love, hate, and lust.
Amidst all the arguments, the pettiness, and the sharp insults thrown back and forth, Isabelle never really seems to analyse herself and never makes any steps towards improving herself to improve her relationships. It’s clear she has some sort of issues with resentment, as she demonstrates in a very awkward, yet hardly humorous scene involving the great outdoors. It’s tough to sympathise with characters like these, as much as the film wants you to.
All that she does is visit some sort of overpriced clairvoyant, Denis (Gérard Depardieu), who summarises each of the lovers in Isabelle’s life. It’s an unusual conclusion to a romance film like this, but it doesn’t exactly end the film on a satisfying note, particularly when this clairvoyant’s suggestions for her love life don’t seem helpful.
The film taps out at a merciful 94 minutes, but feels elongated with the final scene running over the drawn-out credits – it gives the impression that this nonsensical blabbering just never ends. Let the Sunshine In is a hard film to take in, with a central character who is hard to sympathise with, and even the likes of Juliette Binoche can’t make one fall in love with such a film.
Let the Sunshine In plays at UWA Somerville from Monday, February 26 to Sunday, March 4, 8pm, and at ECU Joondalup Pines from Tuesday, March 6 to Sunday, March 11, 7:30pm.