Posted Jan 18 2016
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Chronic - This Movie Quietly, Delicately, Devastatingly Rocks

Dir: Michel Franco

Starring Tim Roth, Bitsie Tulloch, Sarah Sutherland, Michael Christofer, Joe Santos

Tim Roth plays a nurse in Chronic who deals with people who are in chronic pain, most likely on their way to death. As Franco’s film gently unfurls more than unfolds, we come to realise that Roth’s nurse is coping with his own level of pain, if not fatal, then certainly life altering.

Shot mostly as a series of locked off, lengthy scenes, Chronic aims for a sense of intimacy rarely seen on film, as Roth’s David cares for his patients in almost intrusive, painful detail. Then, as his own story starts to ever so slowly reveal itself, the audience it has so far cultivated is suddenly (though suddenly is the wrong word to use in regard to a film so deliberately paced as this) caught off balance, redefining our relationship with all the characters we have come to meet so far. As David seems to start to lose himself in the lives of those he cares for, as if making up for the own sense of loss and the resultant emptiness of his own world, the movie has the potential to move into stalker-thriller territory. Something that is teased (intentionally or not) but which is never followed up. Again, it’s not that movie. It is altogether something much more intriguing, much more deliberate. And much more absorbing.

Roth does his best work in ages here, ably met by the various actors playing his patients, who expose themselves in all sorts of way, whilst always retaining their dignity. It’s a film that chooses to slowly reveal itself to you, but never fully does. Coupled with an ending that genuinely staggers. In its own way,

Chronic is a very singular film, one that draws you in whilst still managing to keep you at a discreet distance. But one which ultimately – but very quietly – devastates.

 

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