How many films deal plausibly or seriously with the psychological effects of a medical diagnosis and the sudden awareness of mortality? Count them. Ray's Bigger Than Life is perhaps the best, while Haynes' Safe and Tavernier's Daddy Nostalgie make their mark too. Chéreau's film echoes the last, both in its quiet understatement and in its concern with the repairing of family relationships. Here the focus is on a reconciliation between Thomas (Todeschini), whose platelet deficiency means he risks haemorrhaging without his blood clotting, and his younger brother Luc (Caravaca), a teacher whose homosexuality has, in the past, given rise to a rift. Now Thomas's deterioration needs drastic treatment, he wants help. The improvements in sibling relations are handled with sensitivity and warmth, but there's a certain predictability to this particular narrative thread. Where the film scores more highly is in its treatment of how the brothers' dealings with others (notably parents and lovers) are affected by the illness, and in the authenticity of its depiction of Thomas's time in hospital. It all comes together in a pre-op sequence of great courage and fine judgment, where the film's overall balance between toughness and tenderness peaks with brilliant insight and a remarkably becalmed beauty. (Based on the novel by Philippe Besson.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Patrice Chéreau, Anne-Louise Trividic|