Both Sides of the Blade
Having represented the perennially strong French contingent at 2022’s Berlinale Competition, Claire Denis’s romantic drama Both Sides of the Blade releases this week in the UK.
Sara (Juliette Binoche) and Jean (Vincent Lindon) return from a holiday by the sea, as enamoured as ever. Both have had significant relationships before each other: Jean has a son from a previous marriage; he and Sara met while she was still with his best friend François. When the latter suddenly reappears in the couple’s lives, their shared bliss is compromised.
The film’s script is filled with mundane dialogue, from discussing the benefits of shopping in Parisian suburb Vitry to reiterated declarations of love that cast doubt over their sincerity. The setup following Sara to her work at the radio station, while only hearing about how Jean spends his day from what he tells her, raises false hopes of an actual plot. This is perpetuated by baffling choices in sound design. In a silent scene, the only thing audible is an intense panting that does not match Lindon’s character’s idleness. Another sequence involves Sara heading through Paris, accompanied by ominous music. As it swells, the audience is prepared for something sinister to happen, but the on-screen action does not deliver.
The cinematography by Éric Gautier is predominantly beautifully composed. For no apparent reason, images of poorer quality are thrown into the mix, their colour saturation suggesting these were shot on a cellphone.
As far as performances go, Vincent Lindon and Juliette Binoche are undisputed acting royalty. If one has ever wondered if these greats could read a grocery list and make it interesting, Both Sides of the Blade is the film to watch to find out!
Both Sides of the Blade is released in select cinemas on 9th September 2022.
Watch the trailer for Both Sides of the Blade here: