35 Shots of Rum

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35 Shots of Rum
35 Rhums.jpg
Theatrical film poster
Directed byClaire Denis
Produced byBruno Pésery
Written byClaire Denis
Jean-Pol Fargeau
StarringMati Diop
Alex Descas
Grégoire Colin
Nicole Dogue
Eriq Ebouaney
Music byTindersticks
CinematographyAgnes Godard
Edited byGuy Lecorne
Distributed byWild Bunch Distribution
Release date
  • 2 September 2008 (2008-09-02) (Venice Biennale)
  • 5 September 2008 (2008-09-05) (TIFF)
  • 18 February 2009 (2009-02-18) (France)
  • 5 March 2009 (2009-03-05) (Germany)
Running time
100 minutes
Budget€3.6 million

35 Shots of Rum (French: 35 Rhums) is a 2008 Franco-German drama film directed by Claire Denis and written by Denis with Jean-Pol Fargeau. Having been inspired by Yasujirō Ozu's Late Spring,[1] the film follows a father-daughter relationship complicated by the arrival of an attractive young man.

The film made its North American premiere at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival,[2] and was shown outside of competition at the Venice Film Festival.[3] It was later released to limited theaters in 2009.


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 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 disorganized 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 realizes 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 realizes 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.


35 Shots of Rum, described as "an intimate family study",[3] has been very well received by critics. It premiered in North America at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008[4] and was shown outside the competition at Venice before being released for general distribution.[3] The review aggregator website Metacritic gave it a score of 96,[5] (making it the second-best reviewed film of the year[6]), with Rotten Tomatoes rating it 97% out of 100.[4]


  1. ^ Claire Denis interview Tout arrive on France Culture February 18, 2009
  2. ^ Dumais, Manon (September 10, 2009). "Sur la route de Toronto". voir.ca (in French). Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Zacharek, Stephanie (September 5, 2008). "Toronto Film Festival". salon.com. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  4. ^ a b "35 Shots of Rum Movie Review". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
  5. ^ "35 Shots of Rum". Metacritic. Archived from the original on October 19, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
  6. ^ "Movie Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on October 4, 2009. Retrieved October 13, 2009.

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