Directed by Michel Franco
Country: Mexico / France
I can understand why the ‘best screenplay’ was given to “Chronic” at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, since this English-language drama, directed by the Mexican Michel Franco (“After Lucia”), is an intriguing character study.
However, that same screenplay that gradually immerses us into the story, sharping our curiosity for such an unreadable character, loses its composure with a finale that deserved a better way out.
“Chronic” also works as a showcase for Tim Roth’s acting skills. He plays the film’s central character, David Wilson (Roth), a home caring nurse who meticulously and passionately dedicates himself to terminally ill patients. The same proficiency that we already had the opportunity to observe in “Pulp Fiction”, “Reservoir Dogs” and “Four Rooms”, all by Tarantino, and Tornatore’s “The Legend of 1900”, was used.
David is extremely persevering and zealous in his work, but sometimes undisciplined in the eyes of the patients’ relatives. He takes care of them with such a resolute dedication that not everybody is able to understand. In spite of creating strong bonds with them - a sort of dependence, he never asks anything in return. It’s right to say that David needs his patients as much as they need him.
In a very particular case, he allows John (Michael Cristofer), an architect who had a severe stroke, to watch pornography on the computer in order to stimulate the senses and the body. This questionable behavior, when discovered by John’s children, cost him his job at the nursing agency and brings him a lawsuit founded on sexual harassment.
Despite this maniacal devotion to work, David, who gets visibly bored at home, has serious problems in his private life, starting with his estranged daughter, Nadia (Sarah Sutherland), with whom he lost contact a long time ago and now tries to reconnect with.
Even carrying a touching humane side, the film is set in cheerless tones and becomes hard to watch due to its languid pace and raw approach.
There’s a certain ambiguity, almost like a secret that we expect to be revealed, that keep us wanting to know more about David.
The ending, abrupt and unsatisfying, prevents “Chronic” from being a stronger achievement.