Friday, June 2, 2017

Nocturnal Creatures

J'ai pas sommeil (1994) - Denis
So fluid and graceful. Denis's penchant for sketching out knitty-gritty lives of Parisians, both long time residents and newcomers are present in J'ai pas sommeil. It involves two storylines, slightly brushing each other. One introduces a young Lithuanian girl, Daiga (Katerina Golubeva) in her Soviet made car driving up to Paris all the way from Vilnius. Penniless and with very limited French, Daiga bums around her distant relatives and ends up living in a crummy hotel run by good-hearted Ninon. The other story is of Camille (Richard Courcet), a gay performer, and his partner are involved in series of robbery and murder of old ladies throughout the city. Theo (Alex Descas), Camille's brother, having decided that Paris is not a place for him and his little son, is planning to go back to Martinique and that doesn't bode well with Mona (Béatrice Dalle), the son's mother.

Unlike Wenders and Jarmusch (both of whom Denis worked as an Assistant Director for) fish-out-of-water stories, I find Denis's sensibilities more modern and cosmopolitan. Her portrayal of human desire and yearning lensed by great Agnes Godard has no real parallel. The cinematography in this is so effortlessly cool without ever being flashy. And this is why I always have a hard time taking a screengrab from her films.

J'ai pas sommeil also features alluring Katherina Golubeva. Obviously the camera loves her. Her beauty is overwhelming in every frame she's in.

I have to reassess my Denis priorities here. I do love her later, more visceral, post Beau travail stuff. But nothing really beats her earlier films. J'ai pas sommeil reaffirms that she is one of the greatest filmmakers working today.

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