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A widowed train engineer and his devoted daughter find their uniquely close relationship trembling on the brink of change, in Claire Denis' gentle, intimate, and gorgeously realized family drama.
Inspired both by Yasujiro Ozu's classic Late Spring and the story of Denis' own grandfather and mother, 35 rhums is a beautiful, intimate family portrait of Lionel (Alex Descas), a widowed train engineer, and his daughter Joséphine (Mati Diop), who live a happy yet insular life in a small apartment in a working-class suburb in Paris. As Lionel quietly seeks to thwart the amorous attentions of a family friend (Nicole Dogué) and Joséphine attracts the persistent attentions of her neighbour Noé (Grégoire Colin) while also dealing with the courtship of a fellow university student (Jean-Christophe Folly), the devoted, uniquely close relationship between father and daughter trembles on the brink of change. One of Denis' gentlest films, 35 rhums also contains one of the greatest sequences in her entire oeuvre: a thwarted extended-family outing to a concert that winds up in a quiet café, where Noé and Joséphine drift together while sensually dancing to the strains of The Commodores' "Night Shift." "Sublime ... Denis' warmest, most radiant work, honoring a family of two's extreme closeness while suggesting its potential for suffocation" (Melissa Anderson, The Village Voice).