500 Days Of Film Reviews Let The Sunshine In Starring Julliette Binoche
Isabelle (Julliette Binoche), a Parisian artist and divorced mother, is looking for love, true love at last.
Is It Any Good?
I struggled to connect with Let The Sunshine In despite my love for director, Claire Denis, and despite finding Juliette Binoche’s performance utterly captivating. I struggled, that is, until the final few minutes when, for me, this fractured film came together in a manner that was both unexpectedly warm and completely satisfying.
During those final brilliant moments of Let The Sunshine In, as Isabelle visits a psychic (a wonderfully charismatic performance from Gérard Depardieu), I understood the bravery inherent in her desire for a meaningful intellectual and sexual relationship.
That she left a husband who loved and supported her in the desperate hope for something more - only to find herself entangled with a series of selfish, soul destroying characters. That, while she possesses an outwardly enviable life as a successful artist, she is terrified of being alone, scared that there is nothing else - no lasting, satisfying love - out there for her.
As a result, after being amused by and interested in - but not necessarily enjoying - Let The Sunshine In, I found myself thinking about Denis's film for many hours afterwards. This movie has really grown on me - a wonderful surprise.
In a lull between projects, Claire Denis was approached by film producer, Olivier Delbosc, to be one of the directors of an “omnibus” film adaptation of Roland Barthes’s book A
Lover’s Discourse: Fragments. While the project did not progress further, the director - alongside writer, Christine Angot - became interested in making a film in fragments, or moments.
“I told Christine Angot that in Barthes’s Fragments, there was a word I loved: ‘Agony’ and we made it our keyword, the point from which we started working,” Denis recalls. “ Agony in my mind evokes a very chic and slightly smug way of saying that one is overwhelmed by romantic woes: the unquenchable expectation, the thwarted ideal.”
The director explains that the word 'Agony' put her and Angot "under a sort of spell, transporting us into a sort of imaginary world. In a way, our own 'amorous throes' fed the writing process.
“So we readily drew from our own experience. The woman, from the moment she appears in the screenplay, is at first a version of us, Christine Angot and myself: Fragments of our lives, chunks of our stories.”
As Denis and Angot worked on the film they realised that only one person could portray Isabelle. “Juliette Binoche stood out to us as the ideal vessel for the role of Isabelle,” says Denis.
“The screenplay called for a creamy, voluptuous and desirable feminine body: a woman whose face and body are beautiful, and whose demeanor in no way conveys defeat. Someone for whom in love battles, victory is still possible, without however, ever assuming that the outcome is certain.”
Meanwhile, Denis describes Gérard Depardieu’s appearance as like a “grand finale to a journey through, and to, love. We shot the tête-à-tête scene with Juliette in one day and that ended up being the most intense shoot I have ever experienced: 16 minutes of film in a single day.”
“You almost can’t describe the effect Gérard has on a set. And I think that it is something
he’s had forever. In the role of this clairvoyant, I found Depardieu spellbinding.” A sentiment about which I would humbly agree.
It was Gérard Depardieu’s final, inspirational speech that gave Denis her film’s final title (it had been called Dark Glasses). However, the English translation doesn’t quite do justice to Un beau soleil intérieur.
Have you seen Let The Sunshine In? If you have, what did you think of Claire Denis’s film? Let me know in the comments section below or you can find me over @500DaysOfFilm.