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One Movie Punch

Nov 25, 2018

Hi everyone!

Welcome back to another catchup podcast, the first of two today in our quest to get caught up after the wildfire evacuation. I guess we technically had two wildfire evacuations, the first from our home, and the second from the motor home we were sheltering in, when the smoke came in. Thankfully, moving inside was easier, and we took over our host family’s living room, which I cleaned up as a form of treating my spiking anxiety, and before letting our cat out of the carrier we had smashed her into while fleeing the smoke. She was unusually quiet, as cats get in high stress situations, and I was getting things ready to snuggle her and tell her everything was okay. My daughter was asleep on our host family’s new couch, and my spouse was reading or knitting, and once things were cleaned up, I turned to comfort our cat. I opened the door... and she saunters out, takes a look around, and casually jumps up on the host family’s couch to settle right back down. Totally owning the room. And owning the couch, which we later came to find out was absolutely off limits to the other pets in their house. Including another cat. Yeah, our cat was fine.

More on my adventures during the evacuation and afterwards in the coming episodes as we get caught up. You can hear the whole story, starting with my review for “Outlaw King” (Episode #314), and before every review leading up to today. Let me know you’re listening by sharing this episode using #WelcomeBackOMP, and I’ll add you to the growing list of people I need to thank.

People like Rob, his stalker Shawn, and Future Shawn of the Movie Geek & Proud Podcast. The podcast gave a shout out when we posted our initial update, letting folks know about the delay, and have always been a pleasure to interact with these past few months. You should definitely check out their recent efforts on the podcast last month, as participants within a massive collaboration called #AllTheHorror. I hope I can nab a seat at the table for next year, because it was excellent. Here’s a quick promo for their podcast, followed by the review.

Today’s movie is “Let The Sunshine In” (2017), the French romantic dramedy directed by Claire Denis and written for the screen in collaboration with Christine Angot. The film follows Isabelle (Juliette Binoche), a divorced Parisian painter, who has decided to give love another try, as we follow her journey through a series of lovers, challenging social norms along the way, and ending up in a most unexpected place.

Spoilers ahead.

Claire Denis is one of those names you hear about when someone vaguely refers to the French film scene and creates a list of directors that someone should know. My first taste of her films was earlier this year with “Trouble Every Day” (Episode #094), which everyone has told me afterwards is probably the worst film to start with. And yet, despite all the controversy surrounding that film, I’m glad I had at least some frame of reference to appreciate today’s film, and now I am certainly motivated to explore more of her back catalog.

I’ve really come to enjoy the ideas and perspectives from films written, directed, and starring women, especially as a man who grew up on virtually all male-oriented films, and teased for enjoying romantic comedies in small town America. It’s important to explore these perspectives, not just to understand the female point of view historically, but as we see in this film, the changing nature of that role in a society that is becoming nominally more and more pluralistic. The suitors comes and go, and instead of waiting for the perfect suitor for a perfect ending, we get to see unexpected and wholly expected changes often unexplored by the standard box office romantic comedy. Denis’ direction compliments Juliette’s performance very well, tackling this perspective in a mostly light-hearted way, a sharp contrast to my experience with “Trouble Every Day”, with great scoring underneath and during transitions. It is a romantic comedy that challenges its own limitations, something that Denis is quite adept at doing.

If there’s any flaw with the film, it’s the erratic nature of the plot without a clear sense of how much time is or has passed. Perhaps that was part of the intended aesthetic, but it made it difficult to judge whether any given reaction or interaction should feel accurate, especially as weeks or months go by. A second viewing, however, would definitely answer all those questions I had during the initial viewing. The genius ending also deserves a second viewing, as it loses something the first time around if you’re reading subtitles. It happens suddenly, and then it lingers like a beautiful grace note as our protagonist has a very interesting conversation with a clairvoyant. I watched it again without the subtitles, just to let the emotion of the scene flow over me.

“Let The Sunshine In” (2017) is a romantic comedy for a changing time, dissected and reconstructed by Claire Denis and brought to life with a marvelous performance by Juliette Binoche. While the film doesn’t have a standard story arc, it does explore and develop a number of emotions and situations that challenge the notion of a romantic comedy. Fans of French films, or folks looking to get into Claire Denis, would be well served by seeing this film, and then seeing what else their amazing corner of the world has to offer.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86% (FRESH)

Metacritic: 79

One Movie Punch: 8.6/10

“Let The Sunshine In” (2017) is not rated and is currently streaming on Hulu.