2013 [FRENCH]

Drama / Romance

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 67%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 37%
IMDb Rating 6.2 10 3134

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN



Vincent Lindon as Marco Silvestri

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by maurice_yacowar 8 / 10

In sex as in colonial politics, the victims submit to their masters.

Claire Denis' Bastards is about bastards, alright, specifically bastards who sexually abuse those who are dependent upon them. The theme obviously reflects upon dysfunctional family relationships and the tacit complicity that allows sexual exploitation to flourish. But in the context of Denis' other work the domestic sexual dynamic points to a larger, political issue: the victim's complicity in his/her/their victimization. At a time where there are political uprisings everywhere, where the longtime colonized cry out for their independence, integrity and freedom, Ms Denis' point is this: We still need more rebellions. Too many colonizers are clinging to power because their victims let them. In the film the hero Marco (Vincent Lindon) moves between two mothers and their domineering masters. His sister, to whom he ceded the family's thriving women's sexy shoe manufacturing company, watched her husband run the business into bankruptcy. She has also watched him turn their daughter Justine (Lola Creton), whose very name evokes a Sadean symphonic, into a druggie, sex object and suicide. This mother pleads helplessness, blaming everyone -- her brother, her husband, the doctor, the cops, her daughter -- for Justine's horrid fate, without ever acknowledging her own abdication of parental responsibility. She especially blames her husband's wealthy powerful partner Laporte (Michel Subor) both for her husband's suicide and their daughter's seduction. The latter charge proves imprecise, as the home movies ultimately reveal Laporte only a witness to Justine's abuse by her father. Laporte figures more prominently in the other relationship. He has fathered a son with the beautiful Raphaelle (Chiara Mastroianni), who lives in a lavish apartment Laporte funds in Marco's apartment building. Whatever his initial motives, Marco finds a genuine passion in his relationship with Raphaelle and affection in her son. In a fugitive hint of incest his lover looks just like his sister but for the former's odd mole. Marco abandons his seafaring career -- the happy life of the loner, a captain who from his family's perspective has fled his responsibilities -- in order to save his sister and niece.His involvement with Raphaelle brings him closer to the evil magnate Laporte but at the cost of Raphaelle keeping her son. To serve her vile master she opts to kill her lover Marco instead of him. Thus the colonized kiss the hand that stifles them, or caress the rod that rules them.

Reviewed by JulienPlante 8 / 10

The mood

I realised after watching Bastards that I am a Claire Denis fan. I appreciate her entire body of work and I knew early on she was one of my favourite directors. Each film she has made has moved me and stayed with me.

I like her way of filming a story. She never spells the story out for us, none of the characters come out and tell us how they are feeling; instead we have to find our own way into their worlds with visual clues. It is for us to see and follow, to be active in our observations. Somehow Claire Denis manages to reveal things to us in a soft, unassuming way, which then affects us when we read the intense and often deeply buried emotion that spills out.

For the making of Bastards, Claire Denis has returned to her team of long-time collaborators, including cinematographer Agnès Godard, indie band Tindersticks for their atmospheric soundtrack, and actors like Vincent Lindon, Gregoire Colin and Michel Subor.

With Bastards, Chiara Mastroianni (Beloved) joins this entourage, as does Lola Créton (Goodbye First Love, Something in the Air). While Mastroianni gives her best performance on screen, Créton reveals a lot of herself without ever actually saying more than a few words.

Viewers that have not seen any of her previous films may find it harder to appreciate the qualities and intensity of the movie. We are quickly drowning in a story where nearly every character is not likable - here the title Bastards feels very apt.

It's a dark and raw film. It has the shadowy mystery of The Intruder, the emotional disturbance of Trouble Every Day, and the intimacy of Vendredi Soir. It's a sordid and brutal revenge drama, but it's also a true modern film noir. Enigmatic and detailed, with dark textures. Sharing with us the fragile and troubled human condition, the characters' bodies are explored in close up, the texture of the skin, the marks and blemishes staring back at us.

But, ultimately, what Denis nails every time is the mood. The unseen, unheard mood. The impression we are left with, the vibrations of human energy. This is the real mark of a Claire Denis film.

Reviewed by LeCadavreExquis 7 / 10

With nods to film-noir and Faulkner's Sanctuary Claire Denis paints an obscure picture of ill-fated family ties and the futile banality of vengeance.

The three female characters in Claire Denis' willfully obscure – visually as well morally, but also plot-wise - spin on the often exploitative genre of the revenge film, look eerily alike. Much to the confusion of some viewers, but there's a thematic reasoning behind this casting choice.

Before I delve further into this, I'd like to consider the generic conventions of the revenge film and how they relate to Les Salauds. Convention dictates that a male protagonist, a lone wolf, returns to what is often his home town to avenge some evil done to his family or someone that was once close to him where institutionalized authority – police, justice – has failed.

Although often not without moral ambiguity usually there's a sense of exploitative glorification of violence inherent to the genre's an eye for an eye ethics. In Les Salauds however the violence is dimly lit, often clumsy – not unlike a real fight. There are no one punch knock-outs, or drawn out choreography, just awkward, quickly dissolving scuffles that leave the chain-smoking protagonist gasping for air.

As is illustrated by her depiction of violence Denis' film can admittedly be described within the vague generic outlines of the revenge film, but she skillfully uses its tropes to tell a story that is much more morally complex, that raises more questions than it answers - for the male protagonist as well as the audience - but even more so she uses this intrinsically male narrative and retells it by foregrounding the feminine characters.

Marco has fled from the world of femininity leaving behind his wife, sister, daughters, niece and a family business of women's (!) shoes. After returning to his past he's never able to clearly see what he's gotten himself into - the truth is as obscure as the film's visual style – and his actions are motivated by the connection he has to the three main female characters.

What binds these women – as a group, but in a sense also as individuals – is their passivity. Yet their submissiveness is not unambiguous, as they make a more or less deliberate choice to subjugate themselves to a dominant male. Their relationship to the males is, albeit somewhat masochistically, to a degree symbiotic.

Although the motives of every character in this film are murky and veiled, the viewer can infer what the women have to gain from their position of passiveness: a glamorous lifestyle and a child that's well taken care of (Raphalle), the possibility to attribute your downfall and moral failure as a mother to the (absent) male other (Sandra), or the hazy seduction of amorous and druggy transgressions (Justine).

If these women act, running away or even if they fire a gun – which could be considered the ultimate act – they do so to ultimately solidify their position of dependence on some male 'salaud', bastard.

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