On the surface, writer/director Claire Denis’s 35 Shots of Rum tells the sweet story of a single father and his beloved daughter who live comfortably and quietly in a middle class Paris apartment. Yet, through thin dialogue, open-ended exposition strategies, and barely there character ruminations on life, death, and happiness, Rum resonates as a story much greater than its descriptive parts. This Wednesday, March 3, Arts & Lectures brings the French language film to UCSB’s Campbell Hall at 7:30 p.m. for a special, one-night-only screening. For tickets and info, call 893-3535 or visit artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu. And for a few reasons not to miss it, read on below.
1) Feel the Love: At the heart of 35 Shots of Rum is the caring, loving, and sometimes trying relationship between train conductor Lionel (Alex Descas) and his subtly beautiful daughter, Joséphine (Mati Diop). Bonded by the loss of her mother, they’re equally concerned—sometimes to a fault—for each other’s well-being, and poignantly represent the importance of family ties.
2) Enjoy the Performance: Just as Descas and Diop deliver in Rum’s lead roles, so too do the film’s supporting cast. Relative unknown Nicole Dogué does a near perfect job as the quirky, doting neighbor and Lionel’s former fling, while Adrian Brody look-alike Grégoire Colin is equal parts sexy and guarded as neighbor and eventual love interest Noé.
3) Savor the City: While the film is built around character-driven relationships, familial and otherwise, Denis’s attention to visual detail also plays a key role. Throughout, the complex Paris railway tracks and train cars provide a stunning urban backdrop and a symbolic nod to the interconnectedness of our subjects’ lives. Likewise, low lighting, sunny streets, and one tumultuous rainstorm all add visual clues to the tone and temperament of Denis’s subtle story arch.