Recent American films about families, like Rachel Getting Married, all too often pierce eardrums with shrieks of dysfunction. Amid the din, French filmmaker Claire Deniss sublime 35 Shots of Rum stands out all the more for its soothing quiet, conveying the easy, frequently nonverbal intimacy between a widowed father, Lionel (Alex Descas), and his university-student daughter, Joséphine (Mati Diop). An homage to Yasujiro Ozus similarly themed Late Spring (1949), 35 Shots is Deniss warmest, most radiant work, honoring a family of twos extreme closeness while suggesting its potential for suffocation. 35 Shots is firmly rooted in place, several scenes unfolding in an apartment building in a rundown section of Pariss 18th arrondissement, home to Lionel and Joséphine; Gabrielle (Nicole Dogue), an ex of Lionels who still aches for him; and Noé (Grégoire Colin), nursing a crush on Joséphine. Dyads align, shift, break, and regroup among the foursome, jealousy simmering in the films already-famous scene at a café, during which Noé cuts in on a sweetly dancing Lionel and Joséphine as the Commodores Night Shift plays. Nonsexual filial devotion is immediately supplanted by heat and desire. Father and daughters comfortable life together will need to endan inevitability that even Lionel recognizes as necessary, no matter how painful. Its a point that no one needs to shout to make.
Dec. 18-24, 2009