Director :Michel Franco Starring :Tim Roth (Mexico/France) 1h 47m
It’s not often that films like to detail the withering away of a person, it’s usually a story that doesn’t attract a large crowd, it can be depressing, sad, often conjuring up lots of emotions that an audience doesn’t want to feel, sensitive issues and awkward situations that an audience doesn’t want to feel. Chronic deals with a lot of these, in their rawness and forces us all to watch all the details.
It’s a sweet story, in a way, it’s dark and slow and ambles along like some of the patients it’s detailing. Each of them with a chronic illness, all needing round the clock care. Tim Roth plays David, a quiet and caring nurse who pushes himself to the limits to care for his patients, he gets to know them in great detail and works for their needs and wishes, no matter what they might be.
David ambles around washing and cleaning, sitting with people for hours, watching tv, driving them to appointments and listening to their crying, adjusting them in the night when their breathing becomes laboured, even going to their funerals.
A sorrowful backstory is unearthed and the blow is what forces David this new sombre career. Caring for those who are terminally ill is a part of him, in his bones. When he gets any time to himself he runs, in the gym, on the streets, he runs, and seems to be intently thinking. Is he running away from life or running to his future? It’s hard to tell.
Margaret: Can you say hi to David?
John: Go fuck yourself, Margaret.
The film, a Cannes highlight, comes from the Mexican director Michel Franco, who also brought us the savage and unflinching After Lucia/Después de Lucía (2012), he presents the film in a series of unseemingly connected scenes at first but eventually the cool detached standoff shots all come together and as they progress, our understanding of David deepens and becomes more questionable, he’s certainly dedicated to his patients, and becomes closer than their families, he never hides his true feelings but he does suppress something, the past, his anger??
This is certainly one of Roth’s finest works, the semi sociopathic character is admirable and fascinating, enigmatic and high fierce. It’s like poetry in motion to see him care for each person and replace that family breaking into the psyche of his patients whom he personally adopts. But the film climaxes in a brutal and semi-intentional way, it’s almost a bitter retrospect.
Rating – 7/10
R – The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005), Measure of a Man (2015)
L – The Act of Death