Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Original title: S’en Fout La Mort
France/West Germany, 1990. , NEF Diffusion. Screenplay by Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau. Cinematography by Pascal Marti. Produced by Francis Boespflug, Philippe Carcassonne. Music by Abdullah Ibrahim. Production Design by Jean-Jacques Caziot. Costume Design by Elisabeth Tavernier. Film Editing by Dominique Auvray.
Claire Denis turns to the world of illegal cockfighting in Paris for this somber, upsetting drama. Two men (Alex Descas, Isaach De Bankolé) make a living training roosters and setting them against each other in the minuscule ring provided by a shady restaurant owner (Jean-Claude Brialy) in an abandoned gaming building. With time, the money rolls in easily but the effect of spilling so much blood and living under the radar eventually has adverse effects, with de Bankole increasingly silent and removed and Descas growing more and more emotionally erratic. It’s possible there’s a further level of drama that the movie could go into than it does, the characters are not wholly sympathetic and the subplot involving the dubious female ray of light (Solveig Dommartin) doesn’t quite take off, but as with all Denis there are unforgettable images and moments of sheer directorial brilliance. Her ability to simply film this revolting sport without actually harming the birds involved (according to the end credits, at least) is a tribute to her skills if nothing else is.