Film Review: Both Sides of the Blade

Sara and Jean on the balcony

Claire Denis is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive French filmmakers working today and also, arguably, one of the best. She has made some of the most memorable films to come out of the country for decades now. The likes of Beau Travail, 35 Shots of Rum, White Material and Basterds are all top tier European cinema. Even when it doesn’t quite work, her work is nothing less than fascinating. Both Sides of the Blade brings together some of her most familiar faces.

Sara (Juliette Binoche) and Jean (Vincent Lindon) have been together for over ten years now. Their relationship is loving and close. When they first met, she was going out with his best friend François (Grégoire Colin). The pair have been estranged since, but when the two men connect again over a business venture, Jean sees it as a new and exciting opportunity. However, when she glimpses her former lover again, something shifts inside her.

Both Sides of the Blade brings together a talented cast of actors who, between them, have appeared in many of her films. This is where the film excels. The way they bounce off each other and collide heatedly. It’s worth the admission price alone. Sadly, the story itself becomes increasingly messy and tawdry as it progresses. There’s also a subplot which feels distinctly undercooked and tacked on, making Both Sides of the Blade and interesting if often soapy experience.

Both Sides of the Blade is out in US cinemas on 8 July.

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