Bright Sunshine In
D: Claire Denis; C: Juliette Binoche, Xavier Beauvois, Gérard Depardieu; France, 2017; 94'
Adapted from Roland Barthes' A Lover's Discourse: Fragments. Juliette Binoche stars as Isabelle, a Parisian artist who is looking for love, true love at last.
Isabelle, a painter, has a series of brief sexual affairs after her divorce. Vincent, a banker boyfriend, inspires her to orgasm only when she's thinking how much she detests him. A melancholy young actor she meets would make anyone infuriated with his inability to take decisions, but she goads him into her bed anyway. Then there's her blooming relationship with a working-class man she meets in a local fish market, and at the end of the film Gerard Depardieu turns up as fortune teller who embarks on a 'reading' of Isabelle that is plainly intended to guide her towards him.
"I told Christine Angot that in Barthes' Fragments, there was a word I loved: 'Agony' and we made it our keyword, the point from which we started working. Agony in my mind evokes a very chic and slightly smug way of saying that one is overwhelmed by romantic woes: the unquenchable expectation, the thwarted ideal. You can begin to 'own' this word the moment you've become more pragmatic about your love affairs, when you allow yourself to be ironic about your past history. And the word 'agony' immediately put Christine and me under a sort of spell, transporting us into a sort of imaginary world. In a way, our own 'amorous throes' fed the writing process." (Claire Denis)