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MOVIES: Both Sides of the Blade - Review

Claire Denis and Juliette Binoche is one of the best long-standing collaborations in cinema, and Both Sides of the Blade is no different - what could have, on the surface at least be billed as a love triangle instead switches focus to Binoche’s narrative - her character is breaking free from both men, who have clear issues - but both are manipulative and are keen to gaslight her.

Vincent Lindon receives the majority of the attention who most of you will recognise from the marvellous Titane, and he brings a sense of vulnerability to the character yet at the same time makes him instantly terrifying during his key scenes - there’s a Chekhov’s Gun moment in the third act of the film where you’re left legitimately scared the longer it progresses. Make no mistake, Both Sides of the Blade is uncomfortable viewing. It doesn’t hold anything back yet what’s left unsaid is as powerful as what is - Binoche's Sara and Lindon's Jean are able to convey that heartbreak, that control and the struggle of being in a strained relationship where not everything is as idealistic and as picture perfect as the opening suggests, with the film acts as a guide to show leaving relationships isn’t always as easy as we’d like it to be and although you may see the perfect couple on your way into work in the park - there's more to that story than you'll be aware of at a first glance.

A sense of self discovery and freedom is played with a refreshingly non judgemental look. Both Sides of the Blade very much means that - it cuts both ways, and not only is that reflected in the romantic relationships but also parental, both Binoche and Lindon got together through an affair and the result means that whilst Binoche’s ex is very much in the picture, Lindon’s clean break - a time in prison has left him with a turbulent relationship with his son Marcus. We see the different sides of him and Lindon proves he’s one of the greatest actors currently working - in fact, everyone in this movie is, really - if we’re being honest - they work with the subtleties of Denis’ film and you buy every inch of their emotion - their pain, their heartbreak - their struggles both internal and externally - it's a wonderful back and forth between the cast.

I would have perhaps liked more to do for Grégoire Colin, he very much feels like the third party caught in this affair but there's a clear connection there between Sara and François, and we can see that he has stakes, interests too - he's his own man, who likes being in a position of control that his job tells you everything you need to know about him - he's a rugby talent scout for young players. If anything out of the triangle, François can feel the most shortchanged - it would have meant for a longer film but I would have loved Both Sides of the Blade to focus more on his character and the relationship between him and Sara at his peak. We're told, not shown - how the two separated, but their spark upon reconnection tells you everything you need to know.

Subtle and rich in its emotions - Both Sides of the Blade is a reminder as to just how good Claire Denis is. It captures the confusing, messy emotions that exist in an affair - with the care and respect that the characters needed to be afforded is very much given - far more than just your standard love trinangle film - don't let its summary put you off.

Both Sides of the Blade is currently playing in cinemas in the UK now.

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