Denis always respects her audience and never spells out what can be inferred with a gesture or a look. Her subtle, layered films reward repeat viewing, and while 35 rhums, with its linear structure, is not difficult to follow, its quiet intensity requires concentration from the viewer. At its heart is a coming-of-age story on two levels. Lionel, a single father, is approaching retirement. Joséphine, his cherished daughter, is on the cusp of adulthood. Their incredibly close relationship can no longer be the focus of their lives, and the necessary but painful loosening of the ties that bind them together is the focus of the film. Their neighbours, Gabrielle, a taxi driver, and Noé, a young, taciturn loner, are also intricately bound up in their lives.
One scene that sees the four take shelter in a bar after a storm was almost unbearably intimate - so much so that I found myself holding my breath, wanting to look away but unable to tear my eyes from the screen. This is a sad, sweet, seductive piece of cinema that I can highly recommend.
35 shots of rum is available on Curzon on Demand for £2