Nénette et Boni (Nenette and Boni). 1996. Directed by Claire Denis. Screenplay by Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau. With Grégoire Colin, Alice Houri, Jacques Nolot. 35mm. French; English subtitles. 103 min.
Estranged teenage siblings Nénette and Boni are reunited when a pregnant Nénette runs away from boarding school to her older brother’s dingy apartment. Claire Denis films largely in intimate close-up, getting us nearer to understanding the inner worlds of these enigmatic characters. Through these siblings, Denis explores the loneliness and alienation of teenage life in the context of the family unit. In an interview at the time of the film’s release, she described the origins of the characters: “When I was an adolescent I read Jean Cocteau’s Les enfants terribles. Later I thought about the constant haranguing between brothers and sisters that exists alongside the unacknowledged desire for this bond of childhood to be their real love story, the one that binds them forever.”