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Rignell, J. (2014). The Shadow of the Object: Loss, Place and Resolution in 35 RHUMS (Denis, France/Germany, 2008). Free Associations, 15(2):30-43.

(2014). Free Associations, 15(2):30-43

The Shadow of the Object: Loss, Place and Resolution in 35 RHUMS (Denis, France/Germany, 2008)

John Rignell

Object relations theory provides us with a thoroughly apposite theoretical tool with which to analyse the relationship between mourning, its resolution and the sense of place in Claire Denis's 35 rhums. (Denis, France/Germany, 2008) the rigidity and sense of sterile safety, in addition to the awkward architecture of Lionel and Joséphine's apartment contribute to the representation of states of mind that deny the reality of loss and consequently impede the process of mourning. the flat of their upstairs neighbour, Noé, whilst superficially very different from theirs in that it is somewhat untidy and chaotic, reveals, on closer examination, that it equally serves to offer a picture of a psyche resolute in its determination to avoid thinking about the implications of loss. the directorial decision not to show the viewer the home environment of the remaining protagonist in the film, Gabrielle, lends the figure a sense of lack and wistful longing. the journey that Joséphine, Lionel and Noé make to confront and come to terms with their personal losses is instigated by an abortive trip to a concert. the outing necessitates a dramatic change of setting from the cold, anonymous apartment block to a warm, intimate bar. the dramatic external change of environment reflects a commensurate psychic shift in the protagonists who allow themselves the opportunity to act on their desire. This gesture of liberation facilitates an even more dramatic change of environment to another country, reflecting the depth of the psychological shifts heretofore. the trip to Germany heralds a less inhibited relationship to the past that allows the father daughter couple access to their memories of a lost loved one. the past can now be represented rather than denied. the final stage of this process of resolution revolves around a visit to a grave demonstrating the protagonists' wish to allow the deceased her rightful place as a living memory.

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