12 May 2020 | kylestephans-32311
It may be hard to watch, but it is touching and meaningful
The movie Chronic demands of its viewers to have something the protagonist has in abundance, patience. While this may not sound like the highest recommendation for a movie, but it is in this movie's case. Chronic is not an entertaining film in a sense that you have an anticipation to see the new Avengers or Star Wars movie. It has no action, fight scenes, sex, or drugs, just important questions the viewer is left with after the movie. At times I did feel like the movie had scenes that dragged on longer than necessary, the film has stayed with me.
Chronic is about a hospice nurse named David (Tim Roth) who works with a variety of terminally ill patients. One of them is an elderly architect named John (Michael Cristofer), who recently suffered a stroke and is full of anger. The second is Martha (Robin Bartlett) a lonely older woman who is going through chemotherapy whose condition is getting worse each day. Each of these patients David treats as if they were his own family: bathing them, taking them to the bathroom, dressing them, preparing their medication, getting them ready for bed, and sitting in a chair near them in case they need anything in the middle of the night.
Now describing the movie sounds like a depressing story and it is. The movie shows scenes that last minutes of David cleaning and dressing his patients that sometimes last minutes and you may question why the movie deems it necessary to continue filming the scenes this long. I believe it is trying to get the viewer use to how dependent the patient is to David and how patient he is with them. But if you do allow yourself to be patient with the scenes it will pay off in the end. I am intentionally leaving off most of the plot, because it is best going into the film with no idea of what will happen to the characters and their lives.
The movie's strongest feature is the acting, specifically by Tim Roth. Roth has long been a talented character actor constantly evolving and transforming into his characters: whether it's the deviously evil royalty seeking Cunningham in Rob Roy, the tormented Vincent Van Gogh in Vincent & Theo, or the (only enjoyable part of Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes) man hating ape General Thade. Roth is always a delight, and, in this movie, he completely carries it. Throughout the scenes where he is cleaning patients that have soiled themselves, he displays patience, compassion, and devotion. It would be hard to watch a movie with this depressing content without a protagonist to root for and David is one you want to see happy because you see how much he cares about people. But we see that he is depressed and deeply troubled by an event in his past. I would go more into his backstory but discovering it is one of the joys the movie offers, as it allows you to piece it together without spoon-feeding it to you.
This movie was awarded the prestigious honor of best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015 to its writer/director Michael Franco. I find this a little strange, since the movie is filled with long takes of people doing ordinary tasks such as driving, exercising, cooking, or David doing one of his numerous duties for his patience that the movie is very thin on plot, but big on character. Chronic is definitely not a movie for everyone and some people maybe too off put by the down-beat story and overly long scenes, but for audience members eager to be left with questions, thoughts, and debates after a film along with a tour-de-force performance by Tim Roth will be strongly rewarded.
Final Grade: B