NENETTE ET BONI (1996) [Feature]

France (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

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