The Wait (L’Attesa)

Piero Messina’s debut is a deliberately (sometimes wearyingly) slow Euro drama, in which Juliette Binoche’s wealthy, grieving mother refuses to disclose news of the death of her son to Lou de Laâge’s visiting girlfriend, who remains oblivious for much of the film. It won’t be to everyone’s liking – primarily because of the pace, or rather the lack of patience some may have with regards to its slowness – and you spend the entire film waiting for the incident that you know is going to happen to happen (while Binoche’s character waits for the right moment in which to break the news and de Laâge’s waits for her beau to arrive); however there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had from watching the characters interact and following their shifting dynamics, if you like that kind of thing, and it’s all confidently directed and extremely well-acted by the two leads. I mean, watching a very subtle Binoche here – still at the top of her game – is never anything other than a total pleasure, while I can think of no higher praise for relative newcomer de Laâge than saying that she never once seems out of place or inferior to her celebrated co-star. My one problem – and it’s a fairly major one – is that I found the whole scenario a bit difficult to believe in. What kind of intelligent, switched on person would stay with a grieving mother (dressed all in black for the most part) without figuring out that something was up within two or three minutes, let alone hours or days? And what bereaved parent could actually hide their true emotions and this monumental news from a house guest for more than an evening, even if they had their reasons for doing so? So, I’m not sure about the general conceit, but other than that, it’s a classy affair. (***½)