Tim Roth is a man who literally stares death in the face in the drama, Chronic. Roth plays David, a middle-aged widower who takes care of terminally ill patients until their untimely demise. He’s a compassionate, caring, and thoughtful man who takes great pride in providing those in his care with the utmost comfort and assistance until they pass on. As David connects with those he knows will soon be gone, he also begins the healing process of digging himself out of a dark depression. He helps the patients and in they help him in this heart-wrenching film.
While the film may be a serious and oftentimes melancholy narrative, it’s the way in which Writer/Director Michel Franco has artfully shot the piece that catches the eye. The average film in 2017 is composed of 1250 shots; many action films have 3000+. Chronic has a mere 97. Franco also utilized static shots with no camera movement for extended periods of time almost as if you are looking at and analyzing a photo as you watch the events unfold.
This minimalist approach toward such intimate subjects – depression, illness, death – makes for an even more impactful film that lingers long after you’ve finished viewing it. Franco’s unique style definitely makes him more than a director and more of an auteur with a distinct style much like Kubrick, Hitchcock, and Fellini had.
If you hadn’t figured it out from the opening of this review, Chronic is a challenging film to watch due to its subject matter and themes. While that may be the case, it’s also rather beautiful in its simplicity of story, shots, and acting. Each actor gives an A-list performance that brings a realism and depth to each scene. The film even won an award for Best Screenplay at Festival De Cannes.
The DVD includes the featurette Behind the Scenes of Chronic, which contains interviews with the director and Tim Roth. It’s a fascinating watch if you are a filmmaker or a person who is intrigued by the creative process.
I recommend Chronic, but bring the tissues and brace yourself for a very emotional journey.
Chronic is available now on DVD.