35 Shots of Rum

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35 Shots of Rum
35 Rhums.jpg
Theatrical film poster
French35 Rhums
Directed byClaire Denis
Produced byBruno Pésery
Written by
Music byTindersticks
CinematographyAgnès Godard
Edited byGuy Lecorne
Distributed byWild Bunch
Release date
  • 2 September 2008 (2008-09-02) (Venice)
  • 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18) (France)
  • 5 March 2009 (2009-03-05) (Germany)
Running time
100 minutes
  • France
  • Germany
  • French
  • German
Budget€3.6 million

35 Shots of Rum (French: 35 Rhums) is a 2008 drama film directed by Claire Denis. It stars Alex Descas, Mati Diop, Nicole Dogue, and Grégoire Colin. It tells the story of a father-daughter relationship complicated by the arrival of an attractive young man. The film had its world premiere out of competition at the 65th Venice International Film Festival on 2 September 2008.[1][2] It was released in France on 18 February 2009,[3] and in Germany on 5 March 2009.[4]


Lionel (Alex Descas), a widower who drives RER trains in metropolitan Paris, has raised his daughter Josephine (Mati Diop) alone for many years. They have always shared a special bond and live a secure and contented life somewhat isolated from others, in an apartment building in a suburb of Paris. Josephine, an anthropology student, is now grown and has become a young woman, but she remains deeply devoted to her father.

They have developed a loose family with some of the other residents of the building: Gabrielle (Nicole Dogue), a cab driver, who once had a love affair with Lionel; and Noé (Grégoire Colin), a moody young man who lives with his cat and has feelings for Josephine. Noé leads a disorganised life and goes abroad often. Gabrielle appears to have feelings for Lionel and motherly feelings towards Josephine. However, both father and daughter are ambivalent toward more than a casual friendship with anyone outside their special relationship.

While attending the retirement party for a colleague and friend, Lionel declines to try the customary feat of downing 35 shots of rum. His colleague appears to be lost without his job, and Lionel realises that time is moving on. He (Lionel) must find meaning and security in things other than his present life, lest he end up the same way. During an outing with Gabrielle and Noé, their car breaks down and the four friends take refuge in a closed bar. Noé shows his feelings for Josephine, and Lionel realises that she must eventually leave him. He knows that she needs to live her own life independent of him. It is subtly suggested that Josephine decides to marry Noé in a scene of her emotionally charged visit to Noé's apartment.

When Lionel's former colleague commits suicide on the RER tracks, Lionel has to stop his train when he comes across the body. The father and the daughter then go on a long car trip to visit her mother's tomb in Germany before her wedding.

In the final scene, Josephine weds a nervous but happy Noé. At the party, Lionel successfully downs 35 shots of rum in celebration of the occasion. It is not clear whether he does so in joy or in sadness. He returns home to live alone.



For the film, director Claire Denis got inspiration from Yasujirō Ozu's film Late Spring,[5] as well as a relationship between her own mother and grandfather.[6] She wrote the screenplay with Jean-Pol Fargeau.[7] The film was shot by Agnès Godard.[8] Tindersticks wrote the score for the film.[9] The Commodores song Nightshift was featured in the film.


The film had its world premiere out of competition at the 65th Venice International Film Festival on 2 September 2008.[1][2] It was released in France on 18 February 2009,[3] and in Germany on 5 March 2009.[4] It was also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival[5] and the New York Film Festival.[5]


Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 65 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 8.3/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "This slow-moving French family drama is rich, complex, subtle and emotionally eloquent."[10] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 92 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[11]

Jay Weissberg of Variety wrote, "Claire Denis' latest may appear whisper-thin on the surface, yet it's marvelously profound, illuminating the love between a father and daughter but also highlighting the difficulty of relinquishing what most people spend a lifetime putting into place."[12] Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter called it "French art house cinema at its unpretentious best."[13]

Sight & Sound included it on the "30 Great Films of the 2000s" list.[14]


At the 2008 Gijón International Film Festival 35 Shots of Rum was nominated as best film and won a Special Jury Prize.[15][16]


  1. ^ a b "Venezia 65 - Out of Competition (page 1 of 2)". Venice Film Festival. Archived from the original on 15 September 2008. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Access to Screening Theatres" (PDF). Venice Film Festival. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  3. ^ a b Lemercier, Fabien (17 February 2009). "Denis wins over critics with 35 Shots of Rum". Cineuropa. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b "35 Shots of Rum". Cineuropa. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Lim, Dennis (6 September 2009). "Finding Rhythms Within Rhythms in Parisians' Lives". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  6. ^ Cochrane, Kira (3 July 2009). "'I'm not interested in making conclusions'". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  7. ^ Anderson, Melissa (15 September 2009). "Family Drama, Sans Screaming, in Claire Denis's 35 Shots of Rum". The Village Voice. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  8. ^ Talu, Yonca (2 August 2018). "Interview: Agnès Godard". Film Comment. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  9. ^ McKibbin, Tony (21 October 2011). "The music and film collaborations of Tindersticks and Claire Denis". The List. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  10. ^ "35 Rhums (35 Shots of Rum)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  11. ^ "35 Shots of Rum". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  12. ^ Weissberg, Jay (30 August 2008). "35 Shots of Rum". Variety. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  13. ^ Young, Deborah (30 August 2008). "35 Shots of Rum". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  14. ^ "30 great films of the 2000s". British Film Institute. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  15. ^ Pinto, Vitor (5 November 2008). "Gijón prepares for wave of films". Cineuropa. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  16. ^ Pinto, Vitor (1 December 2008). "Liverpool gets top award at Gijón". Cineuropa. Retrieved 15 March 2020.

External links[edit]