35 rhums 2008 movie

The Burning Dead movie poster

The relationship between a father and daughter is complicated by the arrival of a handsome young man.


Director: Claire Denis
Released: 2008
Country: France, Germany
Leingh: 1 hour 40 mins
Writers: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau
Stars: Alex Descas, Mati Diop, Nicole Dogué
Genres: Drama


If it were about a mysterious, abandoned house, then creating the atmosphere is a professional skill. But the atmosphere around the measured life of the train driver and his daughter is the real magic of directing.

Usually the plot is revealed through the actors, schematically speaking: an actor comes in and tells you who he is, where he's coming from, where he's going, and why he's going, and how he's feeling. It's all clear here. This film also has a great plot and we recognise it, but we don't know from where. No one spells anything out, we guess everything ourselves from the expertly crafted atmosphere.

Imagine a film without a vivid story, without colourful characters, against the backdrop of an inexpensive flat - yet you are immersed in what is going on entirely. The film begins with an overview of the railway tracks through the driver's windscreen - that's how the tone is set, and we're on the other side, we're observers of their lives. It flows well and quietly; they have everything they need and seem to be able to afford to do whatever they want; only still on the horizon is the inevitable: the daughter has grown up and it's time to leave the paternal home.

Self-sufficiency is the quality that gives the protagonist the strength to give all things dignity. And this, in turn, gives his daughter the strength to make sensible moves. In short, this family has the ability to fill their lives with inner beauty and the ability to make decisions gracefully. A beautiful, quiet atmosphere is created by conversations that don't commit to anything, just raise some issues. 35 shots of rum is almost an irresistible dose for an ordinary man, but for the hero of the film, it is a kind of personal ritual, a hard-to-reach frontier between the past and the future.

The film begins as if we were too late and didn't see the beginning and ends the same way: they will live on, we just won't see it. Everything secondary is bracketed, we witness the main thing - our characters, ready to end one chapter of their lives and start another. They do so with clarity and dignity, which is what they wish for us too.