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  Bastards You'll Never Eat Corn On The Cob Again
Year: 2013
Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Vincent Lindon, Chiara Mastroianni, Julie Bataille, Michel Subor, Lola Créton, Alex Descas, Grégoire Colin, Florence Lioret Caille, Christophe Miossec, Hélène Fillières, Eric Dupond-Moretti, Sharunas Bartas, Nicole Dogué, Claire Tran, Elise Lhomeau
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: There has been a tragedy in the family of Marco Silvestri (Vincent Lindon), and he has done his best to sever ties with them these past few years after he handed over the reins for his upmarket ladies' shoes company to his sister Sandra (Julie Bataille) and her husband. Now, working as a Captain of a ship in South America, word reaches him of the issues facing his relatives and he feels he cannot ignore them, so heads back across the ocean to see if he can help. But some things are so awful that just one man, no matter how well-meaning, may not be enough, not even if he devises a cunning plan to wreak revenge on the rich businessman who he believes placed his family in this terrible position...

Bastards, or Les Salauds if you were French, was a film by director Claire Denis who was not always best known for her efforts' coherence, though not thanks to any fumbling of her technique, quite the opposite as such was her confidence the audience were expected to keep up with her. However, with this there were naysayers who believed she was going a step too far, with a plot that was presented in such a disjointed style that if you did work out what was going on the answer was so hard to believe you wondered if it had been worth the bother to stick with it to a conclusion that spoke more to the darker end of the conspiracies to be found on the internet, where secret and depraved societies reputedly ruled over all.

The purpose of the Marco character would appear to be to convince those of us watching who would prefer not to get involved with the unsavoury trades in victimised people, in spite of knowing they exist and need to be stopped, because it's dangerous or simply because it's not something we wish to be reminded of, but Denis had an answer to that, which was akin to "Look what happened to Marco! Now you must act!" This exploitation took in not only those in sexual abuse rings and modern slavery, but the folks who are routinely done over by the rich and corrupt, it was all here indicating she had rather too much on her plate as she attempted links between all these criminals as if they were in a symbiotic relationship with each other... and the victims.

Which was all very well, but the methods she implemented to put across the true horror of this state of affairs was so oblique that she not only risked losing a lot of her potential audience who would leave confused and rejecting what they had seen as the antithesis of entertainment, but in no way appealing to the casual viewer who might have responded favourably to her concerns about the world. It was fashionable to blame the rich businessmen and bankers for their way with riding roughshod over the majority whose money they had used to their own ends to make themselves ever richer without a thought to the wasted lives they left in their wake, and no wonder as there was some justification for it, but there was something oddly cartoonish about the depths of degradation the villains drag their innocent prey to in Bastards.

If you were patient, you could fathom what Denis was offering, which saw Marco return to save his family as his sister is now destitute after her husband, once one of Marco's best friends before he left everyone behind, has committed suicide after his partner in the company, Laporte (Michel Subor, looking very creepy), screwed him over. Now the avenging brother-in-law seeks to upset the applecart of Laporte by moving into the apartment block of his mistress Raphaelle (Chiara Mastroianni) and their young son, and basically seducing her as a way to get close to the evildoer. When we note Marco nursing a handgun, we are all too aware someone is going to meet a sticky end, though you could argue there's been quite enough of that as it is, since his niece Justine (Lola Créton) was found wandering the streets dazed at night with only her high heels on, damaged in queasy fashion after an apparent rape - is this the fault of Laponte as well? When this all ties up it doesn't especially satisfy, and leans too far into studied, oddly petulant nastiness for its own good. Music by Tindersticks.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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