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Claire Denis- I CAN'T SLEEP -January 25

Old 12-20-04, 11:58 PM
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Claire Denis- I CAN'T SLEEP -January 25

From the creator of Trouble Every Day and Beau Travail, Claire Denis comes I CAN'T SLEEP. Street date is January 25.



Review by Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle)

" I CAN'T SLEEP: Film noir.
Starring Katerina Golubeva and Richard Courcet. Directed by Claire Denis. (Not rated. 110 minutes. At the Roxie.)


`I Can't Sleep'' is based on a series of real-life killings in Paris, but to say that is misleading. It gives the impression that the movie, which begins a two- week run today at the Roxie, is a crime drama or a suspense story. It's neither.

Director Claire Denis (``Chocolat'') took as a jumping-off point the career of the notorious ``Granny Killer,'' who murdered 20 elderly Parisian women in 1987. But these killings, while at the heart of the film, remain mostly on the periphery of the action.

``I Can't Sleep'' is a fascinating picture -- a rare, successful effort at a kind of film that's attempted all the time without success. It's not plot-driven but mood-driven. A handful of disparate characters are introduced at the start, and the movie follows them. But their lives barely cross, and two of the main characters never meet at all.

Although the story is minimal, Denis keeps the frame packed with information. There's always something interesting going on, some odd sight, some arresting situation.

The picture revolves mainly around three characters: Daiga (Katerina Golubeva), a beautiful Lithuanian woman who comes to Paris for a theater job that doesn't exist; Theo (Alex Descas), a West Indian musician and carpenter who wants to return to Martinique; and Camille (Richard Courcet), his brother, a gay transvestite and occasional gay- bar chanteuse. All three live in Paris' 18th district, where the granny killings are taking place.

The movie's audacious, loony opening sets the tone. A group of men are in a helicopter flying over a highway and laughing hysterically. We never find out why they're laughing. Denis is not interested in causes here. She is interested in spectacle. She is gambling that human behavior, presented honestly, is in itself worth watching.

The dispassionate curiosity of a helicopter pilot looking over a busy highway is analogous to Denis' approach. On the few occasions in ``I Can't Sleep'' in which she shows violence, it's not done the Hollywood way. The killings are pointless acts, empty of everything including drama.

The blandness of these scenes makes them all the more spiritually terrifying. Stripped of the comforting emotional logic of buildup, climax and falling action, the murders are like little speed bumps that the killers cross, only to meet an irrevocable and suffocating spiritual death.

Denis applies the same honesty and perception to the rest of ``I Can't Sleep,'' most of which has nothing to do with violence. There are husband-wife disputes; scenes of an old woman and a young woman bonding over a bottle of booze; and of people dancing in nightclubs. Just folks getting by and trying to get along. "



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Last edited by pro-bassoonist; 12-21-04 at 12:02 AM.
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Old 12-21-04, 08:35 AM
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I have really enjoyed her films "Vendredi soir (Friday Night)" and "Beau Travail", it's nice to see her previous work getting released on Region 1. Looking forwards to this release
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