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France, 1994 (MIFF 2000, Written on the Skin – The Films of Claire Denis)

Director: Claire Denis

Asked to contribute to the French TV mini-series Tous les Garcons et les Filles de Leur Age (All the Boys and Girls in Their Time)—which assigned ten European directors the task of creating films about their adolescence, stipulating only that each include a party scene filled with the music of their era—Denis responded with this elegant and affectionate miniature.

Set in the late 60s, on the perimeters of an American army base somewhere outside Paris, it finds 15-year-old Martine (Alice Houri) struggling to come of age, having just learned that her best friend, Marlene, has recently lost her virginity—a distinction that threatens the two girls' relationship. As Marlene attempts to 'catch up' over the course of one long and confusing night, Denis delivers an uncondescending and utterly convincing depiction of teenage longing, rendering her heroine's misadventures with compassion and genuine insight.

She puts us in immediate and seemingly intimate contact with every character on the screen. Claire Denis has become one of the great directors of our time."— Amy Taubin

See also...


Though ostensibly based on a true story-of the 'Granny Killer' Thierry Paufin, who terrorised the outer arrondisements of Paris in the late 1980s, murdering a string of elderly women—Denis here ... More »


For her second feature film, Denis departed from the meditative tone of her debut, and plunged instead into the noise and energy of a band on the road. Acclaimed Cameroonian act Les Têtes Brulées ... More »


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 ... More »


Returning to Cameroon, the West African nation where she spent her childhood, a young Frenchwoman (Mireille Perrier) contemplates her youth, spent within the enclave of a colonial outpost, and the ... More »


Arguably Denis' greatest film to date, Beau Travail is by any standard a magisterial piece of work: meditative, richly sensual—an ode to the beauty of male bodies and to the inscrutability of ... More »


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 ... More »

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