At a Montréal public grade school, an Algerian immigrant is hired to replace a popular teacher who committed suicide in her classroom. While helping his students deal with their grief, his own recent loss is revealed.
A married couple are faced with a difficult decision - to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer's disease.
A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Thomas Bo Larsen,
Elena and Vladimir are an older couple, they come from different backgrounds. Vladimir is a wealthy and cold man, Elena comes from a modest milieu and is a docile wife. They have met late in life and each one has children from previous marriages. Elena's son is unemployed, unable to support his own family and he is constantly asking Elena for money. Vladimir's daughter is a careless young woman who has a distant relationship with her father. A heart attack puts Vladimir in hospital, where he realizes that his remaining time is limited. A brief but somehow tender reunion with his daughter leads him to make an important decision: she will be the only heiress of his wealth. Back home he announces it to Elena. Her hopes to financially help her son suddenly vanish. The shy and submissive housewife then comes up with a plan to give her son and grandchildren a real chance in life. Written by
Cannes Film Festival
Discussing which profession Vladimir could have had in the past, Andrey Zvyagintsev and Andrey Smirnov presupposed an elderly rich man from today's Russia could have been a security officer from the KGB, or a functionary of Komsomol (the youth division of the Soviet communist party), or a scientist who went into business after the Soviet Union collapse. They decided Vladimir should be a scientist because Smirnov didn't look like the other two types. Despite the character's status, Smirnov considered him "an a**hole". See more »
The beautiful camera-work is not enough to redeem this utterly banal and empty story. The underlying message raises the old question of utilitarianism: is the happiness of the many more important than the wealth of a few? This is as deep as it gets and disappointment awaits at the end - is that all?
The main character's motivations are not entirely convincing. The only interesting character is the rich man's rebellious daughter. The rest are pawns in a mundane play full of tediously and pointlessly protracted scenes of everyday life.
Philip Glass returns with his equally banal and repetitive music, a five-minute repetition of one short motif.
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