Beautiful Binoche: French Femme Fatale

“Let the Sunshine In” is a French film apparently created for the sole purpose of glorifying the beautiful face of Juliette Binoche.

But if that were the only thing this film had to offer, it would still be worth seeing.

Binoche plays a divorced Parisian artist looking for a relationship with a partner who is authentic, attentive, supportive, and willing and able to meet her overwhelming need for love.

Instead, she attracts men who are married or men who have emotional fantasies that she cannot anticipate, let alone satisfy.

The film opens, in fact, with a prolonged sexual interlude that runs almost as long as such an act would take in real life. Her partner is eventually satisfied. She isn’t.

To make this introductory scene even more discomforting, the man is a married banker with a personality that is both unpleasant and totally self-involved.

And so she goes from one inappropriate lover to the next. An obsessive actor with dreams and problems of his own, a quirky loner that she meets in a bar, who loves her but is unable to commit, and a black taxi driver that she attempts to seduce.

Her relationships end in flaming tirades from her, usually influenced by conversations with friends that leave her confused or doubting her lovers’ motivations or sincerity. Or else the relationships end in silence as the men try to figure out what they want and why this relationship isn’t providing it. The multitude of male friends and lovers are all thoughtful and convincing actors (Xavier Beauvois, Philippe Katerine, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Paul Blain, et al), but most of them are relatively unknown except to French acting aficionados, of which I am not one.

In the end, the marvelous Gerard Depardieu shows up for a wonderful scene as a psychic who predicts her future and advises her on who to avoid, who will come back into her life, and how she ought to behave. And although you are happy with her smiling acceptance of all he says, you can’t help feeling that her attitudes and her life are never going to change.

It is necessary to note that this film got multiple raves from reviewers, a score of 88% from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes, and a European Film Award for Juliette Binoche as Best Actress.

The film, written and directed by Claire Denis, is billed as a charming romantic comedy. I didn’t see it that way, but maybe you will.

“Let the Sunshine In” will open in L.A. and New York on April 27th. Look for it soon at theaters near you.