Film Review: THE WAIT (L’ATTESA) (directed by Piero Messina)

Post image for Film Review: THE WAIT (L’ATTESA) (directed by Piero Messina)

by Dmitry Zvonkov on April 28, 2016

in Film

THE WAIT FOR THIS FILM TO BE OVER

Francesco Di Giacomo’s gorgeous cinematography, an excellent cast headed by Juliette Binoche, who delivers an emotionally taut performance, a beautiful old Sicilian villa, a picturesque countryside — all these are on offer in Piero Messina’s The Wait, about a mother concealing the fact of her son’s recent death from his girlfriend (Lou De Laâge), who’s arrived for a visit. Loosely based on Luigi Pirandello’s play La vita che ti diedi, The Wait also has a mystifying number of credited screenwriters (Giacomo Bendotti, Ilaria Macchia, Andrea Paolo Massara and Mr. Messina) considering that at 110 minutes it only has about 10 minutes worth of things to say. The rest of the time we spend looking at pretty pictures; the director tries to pass off the slow pace and somber mood as substance.

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We see Binoche distraught at the funeral, see her lying in bed, sitting, standing, walking. She fries an egg. Later she cooks a meal. We see De Laâge leaving voicemails for her boyfriend, sitting, standing, walking, swimming, eating the fried egg, and later the meal. The dullness of it all is excruciating, the pretentiousness and superficiality punctuated by the few poor musical choices which reek of sentimentality.

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Giving Mr. Messina the benefit of the doubt, perhaps for him the contents of the methodical shots have powerful significance. Perhaps in his mind they tell a multi-layered, compelling story, reveal insights into characters, into life. Perhaps he sees poetry in the spareness of the action they capture — the radiant energy of simplicity. It’s not there. They’re just postcards, and any director with a talented cinematographer can make those; it’s like writing description, it’s easy. Finding meaningful things for your characters to do, directing your shots so they tell a story in an insightful and interesting way, that’s hard. And that’s what Mr. Messina needs to work on.

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photos by Alberto Novelli

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The Wait (L’attesa)
Oscilloscope Laboratories presentation
Italian / French | 2015 | Color | 110 min.
in limited release April 29, 2016

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