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Monday, May 20, 2024

Movies with Tarek – ‘Both Sides of the Blade’


The film is titled Both Sides of the Blade, it is also formerly titled Fire. Fire is its English title. In my point-of-view, I see it as Both Sides of the Blade. With all the gut-wrenching and dramatic material, Both Sides of the Blade is like a boxing match that does not have victory or defeat. The match just continues.

The unsettling subject matter reminded me of all those dark productions I have experienced at Steppenwolf Theatre in downtown Chicago. The ones that gear on relationships falling apart or characters in harsh terms with themselves or reality.

In Both Sides of the Blade, the boxing match of the problems is one where the tensions and anger are hidden. From that, the film juggles many underlying issues that are faithful to dealing with reality.

With Juliette Binoche as one of the lead characters, she always can act as a woman that is brave, open-minded, and display a charming personality. The director is Claire Denis, and Binoche has worked on several films with her. What I have realized is that with all the films that Binoche has worked on with Denis is that Binoche can display many personalities. She can play a happily divorced mother seeking adventure in Let the Sunshine In (2017), a lady with a twisted space operation in High Life (2018), and someone that is not afraid to have a relationship with her husband and ex-boyfriend in Both Sides of the Blade. Binoche has many lovely trademarks which makes her to be an energetic, brilliant, and one of the most wonderful French actresses in today’s world. Despite some of her films not displaying much light, she always has wonderful personalities to offer them, and she does so also with Both Sides of the Blade.

In Both Sides of the Blade, Binoche plays Sara. She is married to her husband Jean, and he is played by Vincent Lindon. The film starts out with their being a happily married couple living in France with a few insecurities. Sara works in radio. Jean use to be a rugby player, but his downfall is he has a criminal record. His main priority is his son, Marcus. Marcus is played by Issa Perica. Jean, though, is rather oblivious to his son and more focused on his wife, Sara. The lovebird life for Sara and Jean begins to take a downfall as Sara’s ex-boyfriend Francois shows up in her life. Francois is played by Gregoire Colin. Sara begins to feel she wants to be in Francois’s company. As she begins to make time for Francois more frequently, Jean’s attitude spirals into confusion and anger. With Francois back in Sara’s life, her mindset changes on if she is happy or not. As for Jean, his mindset changes to that pattern as well. Both Sides of the Blade will have personalities clash in many perplexing arguments with Sara, Jean, and Francois also.

I will say, though, even though the likeliness of infidelity is the big nail-biter of drama for the film, that the film is redundant in many moments. This comes more in terms of Jean and his son, Marcus. That subject is revisited several times, and Marcus does have problems. but nothing gets resolved for Marcus or for Jean. Despite the redundancy, I believe still it helped play into the big conflict between Jean and Sara. That is because Jean’s trying to help his son shows he wants to have his mind in other places instead of what his wife may be up to. That does not mean that Jean is laid-back about Francois, though.

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Tarek Fayoumi
Tarek Fayoumihttp://movieswithtarek.com
Tarek Fayoumi is the creator and lead critic of movieswithtarek.com. He also contributes to Medium.com, is an approved critic of Bananameter, and a member of the Chicago Indie Critics (CIC) and Independent Film Critics of America.


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