Cannes 2015: Chronic Review - Tim Roth Shines But Can't Save The Film

A great performance can't save a sloppy plot.

Rating: ˜…˜… For a well-revered character actor, Tim Roth's had a pretty muted presence as of late. He's been a string of cheap, unambitious movies and was last in Cannes in 2014 with the reviled opening film Grace Of Monaco. So it's refreshing to see him fronting a movie, In Competition no less, that gives him the chance to stretch his dramatic legs. It's just a shame the film itself is utterly unremarkable. Chronic was a late addition to the collection of films in competition for the Palme d'Or, and it's really hard to not see it as a filler picture just to get the section's numbers up to twenty (probably chosen purely because Michel Franco's previous, After Lucia, won the Prize Un Certain Regard in 2012). Roth plays David, a nurse who cares for the terminally ill, but due to longstanding personal issues winds up much too involved in their dying days. The forward momentum is primarily concerned with slowly uncovering the emotional trauma that's led him to such self-serving dependence - the film introduces him acting like a long-doting husband, only revealed as outside help when he visits the funeral of one of his patients. It's a fair idea, but besides the vague gradual reveal of David's character, there's no real through-line to the movie; it's an episodic series of similar events that go exactly where you expect. The one shining light is Roth's performance. David is a worn, acceptant figure who, even though he's a care worker with fair motivations, has a clear, abhorrent undercurrent. When first meeting a new patient he's caring, affable and unbelievably professional, but that's just a front for a man who's at his most content absorbing the pains and grief of others. After one particularly effecting death he even mopes around bars pretending his wife's died in a bid for sympathy. However, the lack of direction stops this ever becoming a proper character piece, with each new vignette only going over the same earth in a slightly more revealing manner. This is underscored by an ending comes quite literally out of nowhere. It'd be easy to say such a sudden, abrupt finale is solidifying of the themes or bringing David's arc full circle, but it's really just the film not having a clue how to finish. Keep up with all of our Cannes 2015 coverage on the official page here.

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Film Editor (2014-2016). Loves The Usual Suspects. Hates Transformers 2. Everything else lies somewhere in the middle. Once met the Chuckle Brothers.