Denis tackles a ‘love triangle’-type drama with brooding intensity if rather conservatively, featuring two showy performances from Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon.
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Vincent Lindon, Gregoire Colin
Plot: A love triangle story about a woman caught between two men, her long-time partner and his best friend, her former lover.
Awards: Won Best Director & Nom. for Golden Bear (Berlinale)
International Sales: Wild Bunch
Subject Matter: Moderate – Turbulent Relationships
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
Claire Denis has certainly done better than Fire, but still, any new work from the Dame of French cinema is worth seeing.
Here she works with two of France’s finest actors—Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon, who play Sara and Jean, a loving unmarried couple living a peaceful life together. That is until the past becomes the incendiary that sparks a fire that cannot be extinguished.
When Francois, Sara’s ex-lover and Jean’s good friend, enters the ‘love triangle’, Francois’ presence becomes destructive even though Sara and Jean are separately on good terms with him. Jean counts on him for possible long-term work, while Sara sees a rekindling of suppressed desires.
Previously titled ‘Both Sides of the Blade’, which is as apt a metaphor for Sara’s dilemma as any, Fire is also in a way a double-edged sword. Passion and anger are cut from the same kerosene-soaked cloth.
“Catch your breath… if you have something to say.”
Denis’ filmmaking style remains assured—she shoots Fire with a brooding intensity, focusing on angst-ridden faces more than anything else.
It is an interiorised film, capturing the psychological conflict. While the performances are excellent, they are perhaps a tad too showy with Denis going for a maximalist approach in depicting emotions—some might even feel that this dilutes the film’s psychological aspect.
As a narrative, Fire doesn’t push any artistic or thematic boundaries; in fact, I would argue that this is one of the director’s more conservative pictures. But she’s always good at portraying a kind of malaise of the soul, however hard it is to locate.