The French romance film ‘Both Sides of the Blade’ is not the feel-good film you think: NPR

Scott Simon talks to director Claire Denis about his new film, “Both Sides of the Blade”. It is about a couple whose relationship is threatened when the woman’s ex-boyfriend returns.


French directors have produced masterpieces of romantic films that show some of the complexity of intimacy between lovers.


SIMON: Claire Denis’ latest film is “Both Sides Of The Blade”. It is about a woman named Sara, played by Juliette Binoche, whose long-term relationship with her lover, Jean, begins to deteriorate when an ex-boyfriend comes back into their lives. Claire Denis is now joining us from Paris. Thank you so much for being with us.

CLARA DENIS: Thank you.

SIMON: Denne film sigue a tres charactera: Sara, mencionamos, que es locutora de radio, y Jean, en rugby exjugador, su lover desde hace mucho tiempo, y Francois, en deportivo agent que solía ser elor de Sara, pero luego she left. him for John. What happens when they meet again?

DENIS: It’s like a sting in the chest.


DENIS: She remembers the burning love affair they had. And it is very uncertain. The first thing he says, even before he says good evening on the way home, he says, I saw François. She wanted to share it with Jean to protect herself in some way.

SIMON: Because you think you can do something?

DENIS: I do not think she knows in this state. She is there during the day hoping to keep a fair balance. He wants to be free, but he is strong and cheats honestly.

SIMON: Let me follow up on this, honestly cheating. What does it mean?

DENIS: I mean, she could explain it. Listen, this was important in my life, and I love you, Jean, but let me be free. She asks a lot. But it’s not because she’s tired of Jean, but somehow she wants that bit of madness. She says that every year I always looked straight, straight, straight. Let me take a little detour, you know?

SIMON: I would like to draw a line from your film, Juliette Binoche as Sara. Let’s listen to this line.


JULIETTE BINOCHE: (Like Sara, speaks French).

SIMON: When you love someone, it never really goes away.

DENIS: Yes, she’s talking to Jean. When you love someone, it’s there forever, in my memory, even in my skin, you know?


DENIS: It’s brutal to say that to Jean, but she wants to make it clear that she loves him, but she’s free, you know? Of course, this is not something Jean is happy to hear, but she is a civilized person and she loves Jean, so she tried to find a line to talk a little about that desire.

SIMON: Because some people would have said when you love someone, it never goes away. So I have to have lunch with François (laughs).

DENIS: Oh no, thank you. Certainly not.



SIMON: I guess it’s not a good movie.

DENIS: No. I’m having breakfast with François – oh, my God. No, that’s not a line for me.

SIMON: I do not want to give the story away, but I admired Jean.

DENIS: Me too, and I admire her too because she tries so hard to be a free woman and a good wife. It’s so touching to me. That’s what men do. They have an affair, but they think it’s okay because they are men, so they can do it and be a good husband. For once, it’s a woman. Usually it’s one thing for men to ask for more, to preserve their freedom somehow, you know? Even if they do not use it, and even if they do not have adventure, they have in their head a kind of space of freedom. It’s not the same for a woman.

SIMON: If there are couples watching this movie together, what do you hope they turn around and say to each other when it’s over?

DENIS: I have no idea. I expect a couple will watch my movie together, it’s too much for me. No no no no no no. I’m not a magician. I’m just a filmmaker. I hope – hope is the vitamin to be alive. That’s all.

SIMON: The vitamin to be alive – I like that. Claire Denis is directing the new film “Both Sides Of The Blade”, which is already in theaters. Thank you so much for being with us.

BINOCHE: Thank you.

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