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Bastards, film review: Illicit affairs, bankruptcy and business feuding

(18) Claire Denis, 100 mins Starring: Vincent Lindon, Chiara Mastroianni, Julie Bataille

Claire Denis' wonderfully murky, Paris-set film noir turns usual thriller conventions on their head. She pays far more attention to character than narrative or action.

She is again working with her usual collaborators: the cinematographer Agnès Godard, who excels at shooting Paris by night, and the composer Stuart Staples (of Tindersticks), whose music adds to the film's hallucinatory feel.

Vincent Lindon is the Jean Gabin-like lead, a craggy, taciturn tanker-ship captain, back in town after a family suicide.

The plot touches on illicit affairs, bankruptcy, business feuding and the corruption of minors but the scenes which have the most impact are often those of Lindon or his lover (Chiara Mastroianni) shot in huge close-ups in darkened rooms, looking soulful in a way that Hollywood actors in more formulaic thrillers never do.