It’s almost certain you’ll be lost during French writer-director Claire Denis’s obscured, bracingly angry portrait of a French family undone by its failures and perversities. However, that is the point, and it makes for a difficult yet rewarding experience.
Vincent Lindon plays a ship’s captain who abandons his post to seek revenge on the person who destroyed his family, though his motives aren’t laid out so much as abstractly implied. Working with her usual cinematographer, Agnès Godard, Denis (‘Beau Travail’, ‘35 Shots of Rum’) conjures a mesmerisingly morbid atmosphere (rain-slicked city streets, a dingy barn in which something terrible went down) and populates the film with all number of noir types, from a richer-than-God businessman (Michel Subor) to a catatonically damaged young woman (Lola Créton) with a secret.
It all builds to an unforgettably lurid finale that snaps this punch-drunk nightmare into fearsome focus.