35 Shots Of Rum (35 Rhums) (12A)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner08/07/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Impressively directed, superbly acted drama, though the painfully slow pacing and relative lack of dialogue may prove off putting to some.

What's it all about?
Directed by Claire Denis, 35 Shots of Rum (the title refers to a tradition when dealing with important life moments) stars newcomer Mati Diop as Josephine, a 20-something student who lives with her widowed train driver father Lionel (Alex Descas) in a flat in the suburbs of Paris. Their neighbours in the flat include Gabrielle (Nicole Dogue), a middle-aged taxi driver who's in love with Lionel, and Noe (Gregoire Colin), an attractive orphaned drifter who's caught Jo's eye.

Together, Jo, Lionel, Gabrielle and Noe form a makeshift family but emotional complications set in when they take shelter together in a restaurant after their car breaks down on the way to a concert. Meanwhile, Lionel is profoundly affected by the retirement and subsequent depression of his friend Rene (Julieth Mars Toussaint).

The Good
The performances are excellent, particularly Diop, who makes a strong impression in her debut role and has genuine chemistry with both Descas and Colin. There's also decent support from Adele Ado as the restaurant owner and Jean-Christophe Folly as Ruben, another rival for Jo's affections.

The characters are so natural that the film frequently feels like a documentary, which is supported by Denis' intimate camera work and her way of letting events unfold at their own pace. There's remarkably little dialogue in the film, but the actors inhabit the characters so completely that their every gesture and glance speak volumes.

The Bad
That said, Denis' approach may prove off putting (particularly those unfamiliar with her previous films) and it's fair to say that the film has its share of painfully slow moments. Similarly, the lack of dialogue is often frustrating, because we want to know more about the characters.

Worth seeing?
This is arguably Claire Denis' most accessible film to date. The pacing and lack of dialogue may prove not appeal to non-arthouse devotees but this is a well acted, impressively directed and ultimately moving drama. Worth seeing.

Film Trailer

35 Shots Of Rum (35 Rhums) (12A)
35 Shots Of Rum (35 Rhums) has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 14/12/2017 19:00

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