Claire Denis’ BASTARDS is a work that offers a disjointed and decontextualized vision of film noir, the effect of which shifts the film’s confusion from its protagonist to the viewer as the mystery progresses. The film’s detective character, Marco, is a plot device used to move the plot along for the viewer instead of himself being moved along by it in the same way a Sam Spade or a Mike Hammer are. Marco lacks agency, his actions within the film are driven by a sense of obligation, ostensibly, but more accurately function as fulfillment of the protagonist’s character archetype.
The deconstruction of film noir is used as a means of examining two families in a states of decay and watching their entropic progress. Film noir becomes a means of looking at the sinister underlying the mundane, a theme David Lynch explores in much of his work, especially Blue Velvet. The characters operate as if trapped within their perceived roles, causing Marco’s sister’s family to disintegrate into depravity in order to maintain the facade while the other family acts inwardly on their desires, individually, to maintain the illusion.
One sees the darkness lurking underneath characters trying to sustain the illusion of the ideal. Denis’ use of digital video visually highlights this atmosphere, creating something both traditionally noir as well as modernly bleak. BASTARDS is a film that will leave you talking about it.
BASTARDS (2013) DIR. CLAIRE DENIS
DIRECTOR IN PERSON!!!
4/18 – 7:00PM
Harvard Film Archive
24 Quincy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138