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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.

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