“Let the Sunshine In,” the latest film by French auteur Claire Denis (“Beau Travail,” “35 Shots of Rum”), is made for two groups of people: fans of Claire Denis’s elliptical, even baffling style; and fans of Juliette Binoche who want to see the actress give a masterclass in nuance and subtext.
Most of the film’s text is sub-, actually; it’s based on Roland Barthes’ philosophical work “A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments” and doesn’t have a traditional story. Binoche plays Isabelle, a Paris artist carrying on a number of casual affairs, still reeling from her breakup with François (Laurent Grévill), with whom she has a daughter. One lover, a doughy, arrogant, married banker named Vincent (Xavier Beauvois), treats her carelessly (“You’re charming, but my wife is extraordinary”); others are thoughtless or boorish or just plain wrong for Isabelle.
Binoche plays her as a complex, dissatisfied woman, overly apologetic in situations where she feels vulnerable, boldly confident when she’s feeling powerful. She says “I don’t know” a lot and discusses love ponderously with her friends. There’s no payoff or resolution in the usual sense — as a movie, it is very, very French — but you may find yourself spellbound by Binoche’s expressive, tender, and deeply sympathetic performance.
B (1 hr., 34 min.; )