Friday, November 27, 2009


site | trailer
Thumbs sideways for being lovely, and full of footage of city railways, but incredibly standoffish with the audience (altho I personally find that an alluring hook).

What do I mean by standoffish? Well, the film seems built/intent on playing it coy as far as giving up its secrets, its story. Primary among those secrets, the history and relationships of the members of the unconventional family we are introduced to...

We meet a father, the driver of an urban commuter rail in Paris, and his daughter, a college student who shares a flat with him. They take sweet and thoughtful care of one another. In the opening of the film, we see that they've each bought a rice cooker for the kitchen. When they get home, the father is the first to unveil his present. In a kind of response, to let her father glow a little in her appreciation, the daughter hides her purchase away in her bedroom.

We meet their neighbor from the penthouse upstairs, a slick fellow who travels a lot for work, and seems to have some lusty designs on the lovely daughter. We meet another neighbor, an older woman, a cab driver, who has a very familiar and perhaps needy attitude in her relations with both father and daughter. The film follows these people's separate lives for a few days, with little actual interaction. These days lead up to a big night out, a concert outing arranged by the cab driver, something she wants them to do together the way they used to, "as a family." The night goes sideways, however, when their car breaks down in the pouring rain on the way to the concert. They take shelter along with a couple of other drenched passersby in a nearby cafe. When the music starts we learn just how things are (or seem to be?) as members of our little party pair off to dance.

There's not a lot of plot driving the film. It's much more about meeting these people and learning about them thru their interactions with one another. Kind of like RACHEL GETTING MARRIED with a smaller family and not quite as constrained in time.

My feeling is that what I see on screen is only a very small sliver of a much larger, complete film. That the filmmakers might have started with this complete film, and as if playing cinematic Jenga, removed piece after piece until what remained could barely, artfully efficiently, stand on its own. And in those vital remaining pieces, there are some lovely cinematic moments, intimate. The dancing in the cafe is almost embarassingly... close. You can feel the electricity between partners and the reactions of the onlookers. And there are the trains. If you just go with them, the view from and of the rails can be hypnotic, mesmerizing, and maybe get you thinking about life and lives as tracks, paths, junctions, choices, and consequences. Not a romp, not a thriller, not your typical fare. However, for me, perfect for a Sunday night flick (which is what it turned out to be =).

*SPOILER* The title of the film, 35 SHOTS OF RUM, is taken from a barroom story that the father and his friends mention. It's a celebration ritual, apparently, associated with an old story, or perhaps a feat or record. It comes up twice, actually, first when his friends consider it, in honor of a friend's retirement, and second when he himself completes the ritual, in honor of his daughter's wedding (apparently to sketchy-boy, which, given what we've seen of him, is difficult to approve of). However, apropos of this film, we never actually learn the story of or behind the 35 shots.

*SPOILER* In a sweet end cap to the film, after the daughter has gotten married and left her father's flat, we see the father unpack another rice cooker, presumably the daughter's, from that day long ago, and plant it on the kitchen counter next to his own. I got this scene for what it should be, what it's supposed to be, but continuity-wise, I'm not sure it's correct. I could swear that the cooker that the daughter buys in the opening of the film has an attached, hinged, lid, and that the one the father opens at the end of the film has a free lid, separate, with its own handle, like a garbage can lid. If you've seen this film, please let me know if you remember this being consistent or not. Thanks!

Keep on keepin on~

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