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NO FEAR, NO DIE

France, 1990 (MIFF 2000, Written on the Skin – The Films of Claire Denis)

Director: Claire Denis

One of Denis' most controversial films, this study of Parisian cock-fight handlers alienated some viewers with its unflinching (and clearly well-researched) depiction of a vicious sport; nevertheless, it remans an engrossing and challenging work. Two West African brothers, Dah and Jocelyn, make a living buying and training birds to compete in the pit. As both siblings and outsiders, their fates are entwined: temperamentally, however, the pair could not be more different: Dah is pragmatic, a businessman, while Jocelyn is possessed of an almost monastic devotion to the creatures he trains.

Recruited by Ardennes, a restaurateur who wants to open up his own 'ring', the brothers set about selecting animals, unaware of the catastrophe that lies ahead. The mood throughout is appropriately seedy and claustrophobic, and the actual fight sequences discomfitingly graphic (though a note during the end credits insists that no animals were harmed during the making of the film). Yet for all its disturbing surface, the film is essentially a study in alienation, as Joselyn—a noble man in a debased world—gradually forfeits his passion, his manhood, and finally his race itself, when he succumbs to the erotic lure of Ardennes' wife (Solveig Dommartin), a relationship that ultimately destroys him.

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 »

35 SHOTS OF RUM

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 »

WEDDING SONG, THE

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 »

U.S GO HOME

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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