As arrogant as it sounds, I knew this was going to be good the minute I read the synopsis. I just knew it. It’s not the highlight of the year for me, but it’s really, really good movie. It takes its time with the story and the various character interactions, preferring long drawn out scenes and letting you piece together the larger story, and that makes the entire movie wonderfully subtle and low key. You get to be involved with the story rather than sitting back and spoonfed everything. There really isn’t that much plot if you think about it, which at first might sound awful, but it’s actually not. I usually complain about the lack of story very easily, but here it’s counterbalanced by the brilliant approach the movie takes to telling its story narratively. It’s very engaging due to how natural and underplayed everything is, and it manages very effectively to keep you engaged.
What makes this such a compelling movie is the really sympathetic interactions that Tim Roth has as a nurse to the patients under his care. It’s quite touching to see people in such fragile state and how unconditional and sincere Roth’s actions feels like. I’d like to call this a feel good movie but that’s not a proper expression for a story that revolves around a nurse taking care of terminal and/or severely disabled patients and doesn’t do any of the Intouchables type, generic “two unlikely individuals form a close and intimate deep friendship where each party learns something from the other” sentimental shenanigans. It’s far more matter of fact, especially once we get to the euthanasia part.
The subject of caring for terminal patients in itself is already pretty interesting, but what makes the movie truly work, is Tim Roth’s impeccable performance as the lead protagonist. For most of the story, his character, David, feels like a real enigma. You never get inside his head, or learn very much about him and his motives, so you find yourself questioning everything he does with slight sinister suspicion. Tim Roth really does a lot of heavy lifting in the role, it’s probably the best performance by him I’ve ever seen. It’s so wonderfully nuanced and reserved performance that implies much with words that aren’t ever spoken out loud, they’re merely inferred subtly.
As for the ending, I saw it coming, but Franco drew out the scene for so long that I started to have second thoughts. I also got it slightly wrong, I wasn’t expecting it just to end there, I was expecting it to end on a slightly more poetic reversal of roles, but I suppose that would have been too on the nose and wouldn’t really have fit with the established tone. Which raises an interesting question: was the ending just bad karma for agreeing to go along with the assisted suicide? Or was it just life being random? A completely unpredictable chain of events? You could interpret it numerous ways, I suppose, depending from what direction you were coming from.