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France, 1996 (MIFF 2000, Written on the Skin – The Films of Claire Denis)

Director: Claire Denis

While virtually all of Denis' films have tacitly addressed the issue of family. this - her fifth narrative feature - confronts the subject explicitly. Boniface (Gregoire Colin) is a 19-year-old pizza chef living in Marseilles, where he spends his days tending to his pet rabbit and idly lusting after the wife of the local baker—a solitary, self-sufficient existence that's interrupted by the arrival of his 15-year-old sister Nenette (U.S. Go Home's Alice Houri), pregnant and on the run from her boarding school. Separated since the death of their mother, and united by a common contempt for their father, these two slowly achieve a rapprochement; and around them, Denis crafts an impressionistic and at times painfully honest portrait of adolescence—its complexities, contradictions and mysteries. The director has admitted she has "little sense for traditional narrative," yet her scattershot approach here—fragmented, associative, blurring fantasy-sequences with the prevailing tone of downbeat naturalism—provides one of this film's lasting pleasures.

"Few filmmakers... can paint the colors, textures, and architecture of isolating urban environments with such deft strokes. Denis's family reunion is transient and fragile, but this engaging film glows with moments of sheerly life-affirming good humor."—The Film Society of Uncoln Center

See also...

Intruder, the

France, 2004
Claire Denis' Golden Lion-nominated [The Intruder] distils the visual and aural economy she achieved in her much acclaimed [Beau Travail] (MIFF 00). Through an evocative, dreamlike visual code and an… More »


France, 2008
“Smoother than the finest liquor, reminds viewers how rarely movies capture the easygoing love embodied in a functional family, with all its support and tenderness.” - Variety ... Claire Denis (B… More »


France, 2008
“A bold, very carnal take on adolescent female bonding.” - Variety ... In 1942 in Tunisia, two teenage girls struggle to hold their friendship together in the face of cultural differences and eme… More »

In Conversation with Claire Denis

Philippa Hawker, senior film writer for The Age, talks with French director Claire Denis (Beau travail, MIFF 00; Trouble Every Day, MIFF 03) about her approach to filmmaking, and about her new film 3… More »


France, 1994
Director Claire Denis' (Chocolat 1988) contri­bution to the series Tons les Garcons et les Filles de Leur age brings both toughness and ten­derness to the potentially touchy scenario of three… More »

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