I Can’t Sleep (1994, Claire Denis)

Beautiful Daiga (Yekaterina Golubeva, mysterious sister/lover of Pola X) has emigrated from Lithuania to Paris and is looking for a place to stay and work. Theo (Alex Descas, father in 35 Shots of Rum) is a struggling musician, and his brother Camille (Richard Courcet) a transvestite dancer. One of these three people might be connected to the serial “Granny Killer” who has been terrorizing Paris for a while.

Theo is from Martinique, married to Mona (Beatrice Dalle of The Intruder, also an intruder in Inside). Their relationship issues provide a solid center to the murder mystery plot – turns out Camille and his lover Raphael are the wanted criminals, killing old women and robbing their apartments for money to party.

Sort of like 35 Shots of Rum, following a few characters, you gradually realize who they are and how they know each other, more grounded and straightforward than The Intruder or Trouble Every Day – only instead of ending with a wedding, it ends with two guys being locked up.

Senses of Cinema provides a handle on many of her films: “Denis continues to explore the legacy of colonial and post-colonial societies by concentrating upon shared experiences of displacement – through an ensemble of characters who are struggling to find, return to or willfully create a sense of home, possibility, passion, belonging.”

I also watched her nine-minute segment from A Propos de Nice the following year, tragically entitled Nice, Very Nice. Young Denis regular Gregoire Colin is snatched off the sidewalk by some guys he knows, given a gun and an apparently convincing speech (we don’t hear it – there’s no spoken dialogue). Colin stops at the beach to think, then heads through a parade to a restaurant, where he finds and kills his man. The plot seems like an excuse to film the parade.

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