Written and directed by filmmaker Claire Denis, "Let the Sunshine In" is a wistful romantic comedy with a bittersweet bite. The magnificent Juliette Binoche stars as Isabelle, a divorced, relatively successful painter looking for love in in the city of Paris. Denis and co-writer Christine Angot observe her search for companionship and sexual fulfilment with a dry sense of humor and an edge of melancholy, which feels very French.
On her journey, Isabella finds herself dealing with endless parade of oafish, self-absorbed men, like the married banker (Xavier Beauvois) who tells Isabelle she's charming, "but my wife is extraordinary," or the moody, egotistical theater actor (also married, of course). As Isabelle makes her way from one lover to the next, she finds them all to be entitled, depressed, needy, distant, or any or all of the above. Most end up disappointing her in one way or another. Despite these setbacks, she's holding onto hope that she'll find love at last -- not for nothing does the singer Etta James become a recurring motif throughout the film.
Binoche is radiant, and Denis's camera captures her every movement and subtle expression with a playful sense of curiosity. Binoche leans into Isabelle's contradictions; she's fiercely independent, but frequently eager for outside approval (and hates herself for it). Like most of us, she has a tendency to fall into the same mistakes over and over again. It's a wonderful, deceptively subtle performance. But watching the actress navigate her way through a city's worth of aging fuckboys is interesting only to a point; after that it starts to feel like swiping left through a subtitled version of Tinder for 90 minutes. Though in that way, the film is entirely accurate in capturing the search for love in the modern age.