I went to a screening of this film at the Toronto International Film Festival. We had to exchange tickets at the last minute before leaving the city and we picked this one quite at random. I must say I didn't expect what I saw.
The film begins as slowly as any film can be. A woman and his husband prepare for their children's birthday party. An older man cancels his newspaper subscription. A young man watches TV and observes the teenagers playing on the other side of the street. Going into the film, you know you're about to observe the last 90 minutes of these people's lives. But how do they get from doing the most mundane things to dying? Is it their own doing? Is it planned? Will someone else end their lives?
This is what you explore in 90 minutes. The contrast between all of these stories is what makes the experience interesting. The elderly's story seems straightforward. It's slow and it's sad but you know why, and almost how it's coming. The couple's story takes a different turn somewhere down the road and ends with a bang. I live in Quebec, and somehow I find it resonates with recent events here but no matter where you come from, you'll know of something like this.
The first two stories (although they do go back and forth between them so there isn't really a particular order) are scenes that we're almost accustomed to. The hatred, the regrets, the shame that can all build up within the most ordinary people only to explode in a burst of violence or drag the people you love down with you. It's real and beautifully shown here. We get glimpses of their past and it ties everything together, so that everyone will understand.
The third story begins ordinarily as well. After a somewhat long shot, the camera moves and suddenly the story is turned into a nightmare. It's the most disturbing and violent part of the film. It's also the one that raised the most questions. Why did she stay there? How long had this been going on? Had it always been like this? Unfortunately here you are made to answer the questions yourself. Perhaps the relationship took a wrong turn. Perhaps the man changed along the way. Or maybe it really never was a relationship to begin with. Either way this story is the one that takes the film to the next level. The one that allows us to glimpse into the violence present outside of the world of ordinary middle class people.
90 minutes will shock you. It's not a long film but it isn't especially easy to watch either. It's definitely worth seeing if you like foreign films, or don't mind ones that aren't action packed from beginning to end.
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