Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Alternate title: Towards Mathilde
Claire Denis applies her hypnotic style to the documentary format and proves to be as innovative as she is when making narrative films. Here she follows provocative choreographer and performance artist Mathilde Monnier, observing her sensual warm-up routines and intense rehearsals before footage of the finished product of her piece Déroutes. What’s interesting is that Denis eschews all manner of behind-the-scenes explanations: there are a few monologues by Monnier but they are poetic expressions as intepretive as her work itself, not explanations of her work or her inspirations. There are no interviews with Monnier’s dancers, and no voice-over narration, and the void these familiar devices leave is filled by Denis’ resonant camera work and exploration of physical movement in space. Monnier comes off as rare and precious as the objects that fascinate the director’s gaze in her feature films; the result is a stunner, and the dancing is superb.