AVEC AMOUR ET ACHARNEMENT, 2022
DIRECTOR: CLAIRE DENIS
CO-WRITER: CHRISTINE ANGOT
CAST: JULIETTE BINOCHE; VINCENT LINDON; GRÉGOIRE COLIN
SCORE: STUART STAPLES (TINDERSTICKS)
FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
RUNNING TIME: 1 HOUR 57 MINS.
IN CINEMAS FROM 9 SEPTEMBER 2022
Photos: Left, Vincent Lindo; Centre, Vincent Lindon & Juliette Binoche; Right, Gregoire Colin.
REVIEW by KATHLEEN BONDAR
For Juliette Binoche fans Both Sides of the Blade is a must. She plays Sara a middle-aged broadcaster living with her ex-con, unemployed partner Jean (Vincent Lindon) in an attic studio overlooking the city’s scenic rooftops. When Jean is offered a role scouting for rugby players by his old best friend Francois (Gregoire Colin) the long-term couple’s lives are turned inside out. Francois happens to be Sara’s former partner and the attraction is reignited with irreversible consequences.
This is a slow but powerful film in which emotions, dilemmas and the characters’ relationships are carefully explored. It’s fascinating to witness and leaves the viewer in a state of anxiety even though the scenario is commonplace and the outcome inevitable.
Sara is the key player. She is crushed by her act of betrayal and elated by her desires. Our sympathies are with her even as she deceives Jean. Binoche’s screen presence has much to do with this. Not only is she flawless, and a great addition to the canon of older, female actors who increasingly dominate the screen, she delivers a spellbinding performance as Sara.
Vincent Lindon is equally powerful in his role as Jean who is at once destroyed by the rejection but resilient. His role as a failed father with an aging mother adds to the complexity of his burdens. Gregoire Colin’s part is less strong. We don’t know much about this character except that he is a usurper, but Sara’s passion is so persuasive we are willing to believe he must have something.
Claire Denis is a director of some standing with a slate of films and awards to her credit - Beau Travail (1999), White Material (2009) and Trouble Every Day (2001). Renowned for directing a range of genres from action to horror, in this film she excels in bringing a moving and absorbing work which deals with what she admits (Director Q&A) is essentially a common narrative – the triangle of love and rejection.