Piero Messina’s latest feature, is an Italian-French co-production. Set in Sicily, it stars the always-luminous Juliette Binoche and young French actor Lou de Laage. Sicily is a filmic setting which usually hints at dark secrets and dysfunctional families: you rarely find an Italian comedy set there! And this work is no exception.
Loosely based on Luigi Pirandello’s play The Life I Gave You, it tells the story of Jeanne, a young French woman who has come to Sicily for Easter and to visit her Italian boyfriend. In a large, eerie house on a hill, she meets Anna, her boyfriend’s mother, and Pietro, her assistant/servant, played by Giorgio Colangeli. The boyfriend is nowhere to be seen. Thus begins two days of psychological play between Anna and Jeanne.
This is a slow-paced, beautifully observed, piece of cinema. Messina and his cinematographer, Francesco di Giacomo, give a novelistic depth to scenes, evoking sounds, sights and sensations, in the microscopic way in which humans experience them. It is also, at its heart, a study of grief: grief in all its manifestations. This piece’s beginnings as a play are clear in the relatively compact setting and in the fact that there are really only three characters. However, Messina has managed to use the harsh beauty of the Sicilian landscape to open up the mis-en-scene, whilst also reflecting the internal turmoil of Anna, Jeanne and Pietro. Special mention must also go to Marco Dentici for outstanding production design, evoking a dark, grief-stricken household, without falling into visual cliché.
There is very little action, no major plot twists, and not even a huge amount of dialogue. This is a cinematic experience, in the best sense of the word, and a master-class in visual narrative.
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Rating out of 10: 8
The Wait will be released in cinemas on 30 June 2016.