Boniface, "Boni" for short, is nineteen. He works a pizza van on the Marseilles waterfront. Since his mother died, he's fallen out with Felix, his dad, who's in retail (lights and lampshades) and takes care of Boni's fifteen-year-old kid sister, Nenette. Boni drifts along in his world: pizzas, the 'hood, daydreams, and an imaginary love interest that only makes him feel more alone. He idles around in his hot, sweaty apartment, waiting for desire to come along and sweep him away. Boni dreams. But then here comes Nenette, climbing over the school wall and knocking at his door. He doesn't want to know, but she moves in all the same, into the crummy pad he inherited from their mom - his den, his last line of defence.
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Even though you didn't want to shoot a portrait of Marseilles, did you wonder how to go about filming the city?
I didn't want to be tempted to film Marseilles. No long pans over the city, no extra establishing shots. I didn't want that. I wanted to keep my characters at the heart of the film. The exception was the sea. The film opens in the water of a swimming-pool and I wanted it to end in water... I had the feeling that in Marseilles, you always know the sea's there, even if you don't see it, even if you don't always have to check that it' s there. It's like a liquid flowing through the whole city: I viewed it as the film's amniotic liquid. But throughout the shoot, we kept wondering: how could we avoid stressing Marseilles? The characters are all locals, they forget to look at their city... And Boni is buried in his own life, he has no time to look at the city. The city is out of shot. Everything off camera is the city. You can tell it's there but it's not in the frame. (Claire Denis, from the press kit)