Let the Sunshine In (Un beau soleil intérieu) from French director Claire Denis is a character study of Isabelle (Juliette Binoche), a lonely Parisian artist searching for love.
Isabelle has no problem attracting men. It’s Juliette Binoche, for goodness sake. Men hover about, eager and predatory. Her problem is finding a good one, one worth keeping forever.
Isabelle is a recently divorced mother and an artist. It’s painful watching her spiral through man after man. She lets herself associate with married men and other unavailable fellows.
Isabelle veers wildly from very happy to extremely despondent. Other people’s opinions can set her on a new road instantly. She paints with certainty, self-assurance. But her relationships with men are fraught with communication problems, sex too soon, and disappointment.
All people want and need love. But I find women like Isabelle who think they must have romantic love very sad. She has no internal resources for dealing with life as a single woman with a young daughter without that romantic relationship to hold her aloft.
Juliette Binoche is in 99.5% of the scenes. She is Let the Sunshine In (Un beau soleil intérieu). She’s masterful in this role, perfectly cast and absolutely believable. While I admire Binoche’s performance, I found Isabelle’s quest for love difficult to watch.
I did find things to like about her – she had a poster of Etta James on her living room wall. Back in the day when we used to buy CDs instead of letting Pandora or Spotify decide what we liked, I bought umpteen Etta James CDs. When Isabelle was in a bar and Etta James’ “At Last” played, she got up to dance. That was a happy moment for me.
I also liked that Isabelle was good at shoving men out her front door when she realized they weren’t what she was looking for.
Some of the men who pass through Isabelle’s life are played by Xavier Beauvois, Nicolas Duvauchelle, and Paul Blain. Gérard Depardieu plays a clairvoyant who tells her she’s going to meet someone new. The new man he describes seems very much like him.
The way Gérard Depardieu was introduced in the film was jarring. Juliette Binoche had been the entire focus. Suddenly we were in the midst of an argument between Depardieu and a woman. Then we see him with Isabelle as a client and realize what’s happening. That segue could have been handled much better.
Let the Sunshine In (Un beau soleil intérieu) is entirely in French. You can stream the film on Hulu or Amazon Video.
Like what you read here? Share it with your friends!