Bastards Review

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Going AWOL, Vincent Lindon's seaman returns home when his brother-in-law commits suicide and his niece (Créton) is hospitalised. But the insidious presence of a creepy businessman (Subor) draws him in destructive directions.


Claire Denis, auteur of such acclaimed French films as Beau Travail and White Material, wades into murkier waters with this Stygian revenger’s tragedy, in which a merchant seaman (Lindon) abandons ship to investigate his brother-in-law’s suicide and the hospitalisation of his troubled niece — then plot the downfall of those responsible. Sadly, the potential for an involving thriller is squandered, along with a talented cast, the fractured chronology feeling forced and counter-productive, and the resulting film is so low-key, it’s almost inaudible. Bleakness for its own sake is at best tedious, at worst — as in this case — bordering on the exploitative.

One of the finest female directors around, Denis' latest fails to match her best work. Few films do.