As we clamor to celebrate female filmmakers in the U.S., let’s not forget those who have been working for years in France. Claire Denis (Beau Travail, Friday Night) is one of the best of those, and her latest film, Let the Sunshine In, is a multifaceted, bittersweet delight.
A superb Juliette Binoche plays Isabelle, a middle-aged artist who has split from–though still occasionally sleeps with–her longtime partner and is wondering what her next act might be. Neither a moody, preening actor (Nicolas Duvauchelle) nor the oafish married banker (Xavier Beauvois) who tells her, “You’re charming, but my wife is extraordinary” deserve her. On the most basic level, Let the Sunshine In is a wry, deeply enjoyable picture about the cursed horror of dating and how desire drives us even when we wish it wouldn’t.
But Denis and Binoche go even further: Binoche’s face, its radiance both celestial and lived-in, is itself an elegant question, an amalgam of Who am I? What do I want? and Where can I find it? The eternal asking of those questions, frustrating as they can be, is their own answer.
This appears in the May 21, 2018 issue of TIME.
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