On the precipice of Death – Chronic

ChronicDirector: Michel Franco
Original Title: Chronic
Country of Production: Mexico, France

Endurance and persistence are the principal characteristics of Tim Roth’s chronically depressed character. He is stuck in a motion of caring for those close to death supposedly in order to feel closer to life himself. He breathes their air and consumes it for his own good. It is the paradox of life and death and good lord do we stroke them both.

If there are two more things deeply haunting about this film, it’s the first and last image. An opening sequence precedes the films title card ‘Chronic’, after which appears the skeletal structure of an anorexic lady being washed under the shower by Roth. The shot lingers, frozen to its framing, as is the method of Franco’s use of the camera, and we soon feel the strength of every droplet of water as it carries a piece of life away with it. This will not be the first time that we witness the waking of death; instead every image throughout the film will be stained with its remnants. Ironically, the last image appears as a flash, the paradoxical metaphor is complete and the unexpected becomes a reflection of the expected. In other words, a twist occurs in the way that it should: as a surprise routed in thematic significance.

Chronic_death

 

Trying to articulate an order in which to explain one’s experience viewing this film is difficult to come by. The spectator may experience boredom, anxiety, hunger, anger, weakness, sickness, sadness, and even hopefulness, the latter not being an adjective of focus for Franco yet nevertheless still given its moments. It is a case of going so far in one direction that it becomes impossible not to taste a little of the opposite. As humans we feel great sadness, but the cliché here is that we know we must feel alive to experience such feelings, and because of this sadness we are psychologically able to experience great happiness. It is the sprinkles of salt and pepper mixed into the overwhelming curry.

Roth’s character moves from patient to patient and becomes more and more dependent on those who he cares for, while they equally and more necessarily return the favour. From mental health 101 to old age and cancer, there is no escaping the demise that carries this film and fuels its unbearable nature. This is all attributed to the performances that uncover certain mysteries surrounding death and seek to hide nothing by way of concealment. The true evidence is that which Franco’s camera penetrates: the observation of human emotion, fragility and expiry. The method of filmmaking is restricted, no close-ups, no music that doesn’t appear within the world of the picture (diegetic), no cutting ahead of time, no wild camera tracks, the picture appears quite simply as is. It is a remarkable way to tell stories and makes me wonder why we ever felt the need to tell them differently.

5/5

International sales by Wild Bunch. UK Premiere TBA.

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A Family of Monsters

wemonsters

The conclusion of this film leaves us with the deadly intention that the family is the MONSTER. By way of lies, love and human nature, a family is forced into a series of events with little way out other than the formation of trust.

The film boils with tension from the get go and releases the toxins of human antagonism to remarkable depths. Actions are fully realised with almighty blows and moral conflicts that turn the filmic landscape into a minefield of operations. Signed off with a touch from the heart, topnotch acting and the all-encompassing imagery, Sebastian Ko’s debut feature film is nothing short of first-class cinema and entertainment.

Upon deeper reflection, it is surprising how wicked the actions of these believable characters become. The spice of this is Ko’s ability to make us empathise on all levels and become wholly caught up in the conflict. The perspective that haunts each moment is constantly shifting and leading us deeper into the journey of these characters. These troubles aren’t without their laughs either. Mind games are full to the brim and hilarious in their own peculiar way. The human idiosyncrasy that is revealed in times of desperation is a key stance exploited by Ko and one that certainly calls for the occasional smirk and releasing of oomph from a tightly wound audience.

Pluto Film represents We Monsters – they do a fantastic job of treating new talent with high regard and providing a sales platform for bold and new crossover dramas – I was fortunate enough to attend their market screening in Cannes. The worldwide premiere for the film will be held at Shanghai International Film Festival taking place between 13th to the 21st June. UK Premiere to be announced shortly after.

5/5