thu 16/08/2018

DVD: The Claire Denis Collection | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: The Claire Denis Collection

DVD: The Claire Denis Collection

Box set of four films from French director reveals her to be about more than mere style

Isabelle Huppert in Claire Denis's 'White Material': framed in the landscape

Inevitably, in box sets collecting the works of a single director one film will overshadow the others. So it is with the four discs of The Claire Denis Collection, where 2009’s White Material expresses the temperament, texture and compositional style of a Denis film more effectively than its three companions. This doesn’t mean that White Material should be watched first, or that it’s better than Chocolat (1988), Nénette et Boni (1996) or Beau Travail (1999), just that it is the finest distillation of Denis to date.

The Claire Denis CollectionAssessing a director from four films plucked their wider oeuvre is risky, but a trajectory can still be seen. With a director as formalist as Denis – her films are as much about framing the landscape and placing characters in settings as they are the narrative – it’s possible to see an evolution. Naturally, watching this quartet with an eye on how they are composed would take a lot of fun out of the experience, but Denis is happily about more than clinical precision. She also has a great way with the human dimension, and subtly brings out the forces buffeting her characters. In Nénette et Boni, Grégoire Colin’s (Boni) first confrontation with his sister would still have worked if he’d gone off like a firework, but underplaying the interaction makes the film linger longer. The peak performance here though is Isabelle Huppert's in White Material, where - although not mute - she drifts through this unidentifed African country with the detachment of Christine Gordon in Jacques Tourneur’s similarly plantation-centred I Walked with a Zombie.

There’s no booklet with the set, but each disc has extras including trailers and interviews with Denis and cast members. Watching them in chronological order (recommended) does nothing to diminish the power of the strange, dreamlike White Material.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Watch the trailer for White Material

Denis is about more than clinical precision, she also has a great way with the human dimension

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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