I am well aware that I am taking a rather unpopular stance here, but I find women who must always have a man in their lives very annoying. Christine Angot and Claire Denis' film, "Let The Sunshine In", also directed by Denis, is that story.
Isabelle (Juliette Binoche), the divorced single mother of a young girl, is determined to find love again. Unfortunately she continually sets her sights on married men who are not able to fulfill her needs. And she is needy. Isabelle also makes some questionable choices.
The first lover we meet is an obnoxious, arrogant banker (Xavier Beauvois). I don't care how wealthy this cad is --- I would have kicked him to the curb way before Isabelle does. He treats her with complete disdain, then turns on the charm in an attempt to reconcile. Ewww ---
Her actor-lover (Nicolas Duvauchelle), also married, is very handsome and kind, but totally confused. He thinks he wants a relationship with Isabelle, but after semi-forced intimacy ---
by her --- his guilt gets the better of him. And then there is a fellow artist (Alex Descas), who can't seem to commit --- to anything. Isabelle believes she loves all of these men --- and wishes earnestly that they will love her in return.
Please, do not get me wrong. I strongly believe women have the same rights as men to have as many sexual conquests as they please. What I don't appreciate in Denis' and Angot's portrait of Isabelle is the dependency upon a man to keep loneliness at bay. Isabelle is an accomplished painter, so the cliche of her being a distraught, overwrought artist is beneath this character.
Lastly, when Isabelle has been through her parade of men, including her ex-husband, she stumbles upon a fortune teller (Gérard Depardieu) who instructs her to "stay open to things". He, like the rest of the men in her life, uses his sexual prowess, trying to convince Isabelle he may be the right man for her. She is entranced by this strange man when he sings to her --- and we see it all over again. She is now falling in love with him. C'est dommage ---
Binoche is wonderful, as always. She is not the problem. The writing is what's wrong with "Let The Sunshine In". It's trite --- it's predictable. Not for a minute did I believe the storyline involving the banker. Isabelle is desperate, but not that desperate. He's just disgusting.
And, as much as it pains me to write this, because I used to be such a huge fan, Depardieu is no longer the sexy actor he once was. I found the scene between Binoche and him totally implausible. His faux seduction of her --- and her dreamy countenance is nearly laugh inducing instead of romantic.
As a lover of great French films, including many of Depardieu's, such as "Jean de Florette" and "Cyrano de Bergerac", "Let The Sunshine In" is a complete disappointment. It makes me sad to admit this, but it is not worth the effort or the time to see it, but if you must, at least wait to watch it at home.
Opinion: Wait for DVD
Based on an original book by deceased writer Roland Barthes, co-writer and director Claire Denis' new film, "Let The Sunshine In", is notable for the marvelous performance by its leading lady, Juliette Binoche. Still very beautiful and sexy at 54, Binoche plays Isabelle, a divorced mother looking for true love.
This movie might have been titled "The Loneliness of the Middle-Aged Woman", and it works precisely because of Binoche's physical appearance. Society typically considers less attractive females as being lonely, the beauties not so much. Yet one look at Isabelle, who is also a successful artist, and you have to wonder why she's not happy.
The opening sequence presents Isabelle and her lover, Vincent (Xavier Beauvois) having sex. He's enjoying it, she's faking it, and this sets up the story's premise of Isabelle seeking meaningful companionship. Vincent is a boor, but he's not the only man in her life. She occasionally dabbles unsatisfactorily with her ex-husband, Francois (Laurent Grévill), and has a fling with a handsome, young actor (Nicolas Duvauchelle). She later counsels with a clairvoyant (le voyant, Gérard Depardieu) who has his own agenda as far as Isabelle is concerned. Almost pathetically, she hangs on every word he espouses and seems to be falling for him --- yet another questionable choice for a lover.
"Let The Sunshine In" is billed as a comedy, drama and romance, and it is essentially all of these things. Binoche is really the only reason to see this film --- she captures our attention in every scene.
Fortunately, the movie's running time is short at 94 minutes, so Denis and her co-writer Christine Angot must have realized that "brevity is the soul of wit" --- to quote Shakespeare. Notably, Denis was honored at Cannes for her direction, and Binoche was nominated for a César, France's version of the Oscar.
Opinion: Wait for DVD