35 Rhums (35 Shots of Rum) Reviews
Had I not read a brief synopsis of this film before going to see it, I might?ve thought these two were a married couple, based on their obvious affection for each other and their perfectly choreographed movements around the apartment. As it turns out, the man, Lionel, and the woman, Jo, are father and daughter.
Lionel is a train conductor. Jo is a student ? I?m not sure if she?s in high school or college. Lionel?s wife (Jo?s mother) is dead and probably has been for a long time. Gabrielle, a taxi-driver who lives in the apartment across the hall, has a crush on Lionel. Noe, a frequent traveler who lives upstairs, has a crush on Jo. Rene, Lionel?s friend and co-worker, has some sort of serious medical condition that?s forcing him to retire.
These five characters ? and another suitor of Jo?s who appears briefly ? go about their daily lives of working and attending school and exercising and socializing and eating plate after plate of white rice without ever really filling in the audience on what?s going on. Much of the film revolves around an upcoming concert -- referred to simply as ?the concert? ? which apparently anyone who?s anyone is going to. Later, Lionel and Jo take a road trip to Germany where they visit a bitter, talkative woman who I assume is Jo?s aunt, place flowers on Jo?s mother?s grave, and camp out in the cold on the beach.
The main focus of the film is the relationship between Lionel and Jo, which isn?t exactly creepy, but borders on too close for comfort. There?s a scene in which Jo kneels by her father?s bed and nurses his hangover with a glass of alka-seltzer which seemed way too intimate for a normal father-daughter relationship, but maybe that?s just my own skewed perspective of the way these things should be.
35 Shots of Rum dishes out its story in ambiguous little dribs and drabs, never quite giving the viewers enough information to piece it all together. It?s not like I need everything spelled out for me in order to be able to enjoy a film, but this director seems almost to embrace vagueness for vagueness? sake. When all was said and done, about the only thing I was really sure of was that Lionel and Jo are incredibly fond of rice.
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This is a film about knowing when to let go. Yet, nothing much happens - Lionel‚??s colleague retires, Noe‚??s cat dies - but there are hints throughout that the time has come for all these people to let go: for Lionel to let his daughter go, for Josephine to leave home, for Noe to free himself from his past.