Let the Sunshine In is an incredibly intimate, often touching, yet not at all subtle romantic film that explores the difficulties of love for Parisian artist, Isabelle (Juliette Binoche).
Directed by Claire Denis and set across the backdrop of her home city of Paris, Let the Sunshine In lets you know right from the first second exactly how intimate it is going to be, and having this somewhat personal feel to it is perhaps its strongest aspect.
Structurally and narratively unusual in the sense that it doesn’t comply with the three-act tradition, Let the Sunshine In is more of a connected series of events all centred around the same woman, and while she does go on a journey throughout this film, it’s clear that the film is far more interested in the themes it is delving into rather than the characters.
Juliette Binoche (1997 Best Supporting Actress for The English Patient) plays Isabelle, a divorced Parisian artist whose love life appears to be a series of equally difficult men. A great deal of the film’s standout intimacy comes directly from Binoche’s performance; a rather remarkable little showing. We see her constantly go from extreme love to extreme distaste for the men in her life as she appears to constantly be changing her mind as to which one is best for her.
In this way, it would be fair to say that for the most part, Isabelle comes off as rather desperate for love, which is simply a character trait. It is rather moving on occasion when we see her make certain decisions we know she doesn’t really want to make purely because of this feeling of desperation.
In this sense, it’s fair to say that the film can sometimes be a little intense. It would be very easy for certain people to think themselves a similar person to Isabelle and in that way, the film would only feel even more emotional, despite the fact that on the surface, it is not a particularly deep and dramatic film.
Perhaps Let the Sunshine In‘s very setting of Paris itself, the most romantic city in the world, only adds to Isabelle’s frustration. The musical score, which could be considered typically French-sounding, is also melancholy and bittersweet yet romantic enough that it mirrors the film perfectly.
Sadly, there is absolutely no subtlety to the film whatsoever. Yes, Binoche’s performance is a touching one, but the scenes do play out in rather obvious ways. The supporting cast has no real arcs of their own and are all there just either as annoyances to Isabelle or behaving like supporting characters we have seen in thousands of romantic films before, not seeming to have any clue as to what Isabelle wants.
That is, until the legendary French actor Gerard Depardieu (Cyrano de Bergerac) shows up towards the end of the film, playing a professional confidante to Isabelle and in the extended final scene tells her exactly what she has needed to hear all along.
It could very easily be said that Let the Sunshine In is a rather sappy film and it is certainly not for those people who don’t care to talk about such things as love, sex and relationships in a frank manner. It does also suffer from its lack of subtlety in the messages it successfully conveys, but quiet little films with such a stark intimacy do not come around very often. Add to that the wonderful central performance and the pleasing extended cameo from Depardieu, and Let the Sunshine In is a perfectly enjoyable watch.