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Both Sides of the Blade(Avec amour et acharnement)

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France · 2022
1h 57m
Director Claire Denis
Starring Juliette Binoche, Vincent Lindon, Grégoire Colin, Mati Diop
Genre Drama, Romance, Thriller

Sara and her husband, Jean, have a happy and loving relationship. However, that all changes when Sara notices her estranged ex-boyfriend François on the street one day. François is looking to go into business with Jean, who was once his close friend. The re-emergence of François into their lives threatens Sara and Jean's relationship.

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What are critics saying?


IndieWire by David Ehrlich

As is often the case with Denis’ films, Fire grows more illuminating as it gets hotter; what starts like a constrained and unusually jagged French drama is eventually forged into an incendiary portrait of three people who — to varying degrees — all delude themselves into thinking that the past is possible to quarantine away from the present.


The Hollywood Reporter by David Rooney

The sense of love dissolving and lives thrown into chaos as a dormant past violently breaks through the surface is unexpectedly moving, all the more so because of the film’s rigorous rejection of sentimentality.


Variety by Guy Lodge

Denis’ latest sees her applying her usual rigorous form and psychological curiosity to material that tends to inspire more generic directorial treatment, teasing out a rich, nuanced exploration of female desire from the fault lines of an ostensibly simple narrative.


The Playlist by Jessica Kiang

Marie never seems particularly interested in either man except for how they are interested in her and is revealed to be so self-centered in her pursuit of amours both fou and entirely rational, that she is far less likable than Binoche’s disingenuously bright-eyed and forthright performance can account for.


Screen Daily by Jonathan Romney

Some viewers may find it hard to credit the emotional extremes on display here, which seem more to do with the codes of French psychological drama than with the way people might actually behave in real relationships. Indeed, Binoche has not always convinced in conventional terms when playing women in a psychosexual fluster. Nevertheless, it’s something that she specialises in, and she pushes that register a lot further here – and far more compellingly - than in Denis’s Sunshine.


The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw

Claire Denis’s new film is a seductively indirect love triangle, a drama of the mind as much as the heart. It’s intriguing if contrived and anticlimactic, though acted at the highest pitch of sensual conviction.


The Film Stage by Rory O'Connor

It isn’t difficult to imagine Denis–one of the most cerebral, confounding filmmakers we have–constructing Fire, with its oddly trivial love triangle and omnipresent string section, as a duplicitous farce; a way to upend our expectations of how a film like this should look.

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