Claire Denis is one of the true visionaries of contemporary French cinema.

les bastards claire denis french cinema

Her films, which include The IntruderFriday Night and 35 Shots of Rum, are known for being sensual, sometimes shocking and always daring. Her eagerly anticipated new film, Bastards, which opens at TIFF Bell Lighbox on October 11, could be her most daring endeavour yet.

Bastards is a complex tale of revenge centred around a French family unraveled by the twisted actions of a wealthy businessman, Edouard Laport (Michel Subor). Marco Silvestri (Vincent Lindon of Denis’ Friday Night) is a ship captain who returns to Paris after his brother-in-law commits suicide. His sister Sandra is desperate – the family’s shoe business has gone under, her daughter is spiralling out of control, there’s no money left and she holds Laport solely responsible. What follows is Marco’s enigmatic revenge plan, which involves moving into the building where Laport’s beautiful mistress (Chiara Mastroianni) lives with her son. But Marco’s plan hasn’t taken into consideration Sandra’s secrets, which start to muddy the waters in this eerie film.

Shooting digitally for the first time, the director’s dramatic lens leads the audience through a beautiful puzzle of a film. Many shots, including one of a girl walking along a street at night, completely naked but for a pair of high heel shoes, will invoke startling responses from viewers. Told in elliptical style with lots of time jumping, Bastards is mysterious, very intense and possesses moments of true intimacy between its characters.

les bastards film claire denis

Bastards opens at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Friday October 11, 2013. The film is part of Objects of Desire: The Cinema of Claire Denis running from October 11 to November 10. The retrospective chronicles the ongoing journey of Denis as a filmmaker, whose boldness, curiosity and uniquely sensual sense of cinema constantly invite us to see the world in different ways.

We recommend adding this film series to your list of must-attend events in October. Make it a dinner and a movie night with the girls – you won’t be disappointed.


Update: Claire Denis will be in attendance on Thursday, October 17 at 6:45 p.m. to present her Carte Blanche selection, a restored 35mm print of Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Touki Bouki(1973); and Mati Diop’s homage to her legendary filmmaker uncle, A Thousand Suns (Mille Soleils) (2013). Denis will also be present on Friday, October 18, 6:30 p.m. to do an introduction and Q&A of Bastards. Learn more.

Story by: Sheetal Maya Nanda  |  Photography Courtesy: TIFF