It’s a simple fact that old Jack here is really not qualified to review this film. It looked like the powerful story of a woman recovering from her divorce by testing the market, assessing and discarding a series of potential beaux, and finding a state of self-reliance and independence where her emotional and physical freedom Let the Sunshine In.
I expected a modern film for modern women crashing into modern middle age. The one where you’re trendy, youthful looking, at ease with the world and life does what you want it to. Not my experience, to be fair, what with many a happy decade with Mrs Jack, basically doing her bidding, then scarcely recovering from having my identity ripped into as she left the planet.
Anyway – you can see the point coming. Let the Sunshine In is a different kind of film. Nearly a romantic comedy, but actually a chokingly urban-Gallic tale of serial semi-relationships, disappointment and, in a final sequence with a therapist and a lot of film credits, smug.
Juliette Binoche is Isabelle. We meet her being unpleasantly sexed by a tubby beardy grump who doesn’t deserve the beauty on hand, and doesn’t know what he’s doing to take her to a special place that earns hugs and mutual adoration. So there. Old Jack didn’t like him. Xavier Beauvois is convincingly loathesome as Vincent, travelling business-twat (there’s a scene with a barman that makes you feel your own decency bubbling up to punch the tosser). Not romantic at all. Isabelle nearly gets away…
And on to others. One, an actor outbidding her with self-absorption and broken potential. Another, a strange, strange fellow who professes – and quite probably means – concern for Isabelle. Offers of holidays in the shop they repeatedly bump into are somehow creepy, whilst perhaps being intended as Frenchily pathetic. Philippe Katerine gives a hairily sweaty cameo as a man so instinctively repellent he may never have been kissed. Binoche doesn’t exactly blank the man, but this, like you will have realised of the film, is going nowhere.
Oh – there’s another quietly jealous guy who lunches. And they don’t connect. Drabness as comedy, I guess.
She also re-engages with her ex, disgruntled father of their kid. There’s no child in sight, so this old relationship ends up in bed, where the ex dares do something new – which Binoche’s Isabelle tears into for being unnatural and something learned. Oh, and gross; while we’re at it, I’m not a fan of seeing men of any age sucking their finger pre…um…investigating their partner. Romance doesn’t have a chance here…
And on it goes, Isabelle being controlled but not, utterly desirable but fragmented and changeable, and, in one scene of astonishing hypocrisy, resolving the urbanites vs countryside-ites debate by bellowing as they cross a bridge. Really, the weedy little boy-intellectuals she’s surrounded herself with are only trying to assess the fields, the sky, the birds, their wonder and oneness with- Park that, she was right. And shouldn’t have been out and about with the tiresome twats in the first instance.
Let the Sunshine In does anything but. It may well be a daring reimagining of the romcom for the emotionally wretched and exhaustingly modern, but if that’s art and irony, I’d like art and irony to get the drubbing they deserve. What’s so difficult about building on a kind of movie and making points that aren’t showy and smug, eh?
Give joy a chance.
Binoche is terrific.
The ending, no fault of her or the unexpectedly therapeutic Gérard Depardieu, isn’t.