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TOWARDS MATHILDE

Director: CLAIRE DENIS

83 minutes| France| 2005| Subtitled| Colour| 35mm


This is Denis’ lean, intimate documentary portrait of Mathilde Monnier, one of France’s top choreographers. Offering a meeting of minds between two bracingly oblique artists, the film finds Monnier and Denis performing an intellectual pas de deux as they discuss theories of dance, intercut with footage of Monnier rehearsing with her ensemble and dancing along to songs by alternative rocker P. J. Harvey.

Early sequences show Monnier agreeing with an off-screen Denis that the director will ask her questions to clarify her work, which she will then muddy up again with her answers. True to her word, the choreographer demonstrates her intimacy with post-modernist thinking by explaining how movement leaves a ‘mark in space’ and how dance is a ‘distorted language’. Thankfully, the dance footage itself offers more accessible pleasures. Indeed, the film’s most mesmerising sequences depict Monnier simply warming up by thrashing her body around to various songs. Notes by Leslie Felperin

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