Director: Piero Messina
Screenwriters: Piero Messina, Giacomo Bendotti, Ilaria Macchia and Andrea Paolo Massara based on the play L’attessa by Luigi Pirandello
Lou de Laâge
Runtime: 100 mins.
Australian release date: 30 June 2016
From a villa in the shadow of Sicily’s Mt. Etna during the lead-up to Easter 2006, comes this dark, original offering (The Wait - L’attesa) from Italian director Piero Messina, and we quickly understand that a death has recently occurred in this place. Out of the blue, Anna (Juliette Binoche), the mistress of the house, receives a call from her son’s girlfriend, Jeanne (Lou de Laâge), announcing her imminent arrival at the villa to await Giuseppe (Giovanni Anzaldo), who is expected on Easter Sunday.
When Jeanne arrives, the windows are shuttered, there is dark fabric draped over all the mirrors and the house is occupied by back-clad mourners; she is told that they are grieving for the death of Anna’s brother. As they wait for Giuseppe, the two women develop a tentative relationship, slowly learning a little more about each other and their situations. Jeanne leaves constant messages for Giuseppe when her calls go unanswered (this is prior to the advent of iPhones, when a person’s whereabouts weren’t able to be easily tracked). From one of these messages we learn that Jeanne and Giuseppe had been estranged for a while and that this was going to be a reunion of sorts, and they were hoping to re-kindle their relationship over the Easter period. All the while, the delicate waltz by the two women is discretely observed by Anna’s employee, Pietro (Giorgio Colangeli), who seems to know more about the situation than he lets on.
The rural Sicilian locations are spectacularly captured by Francesco Di Giacomo’s brooding cinematography. Binoche is mesmerizing as a mother harbouring a secret that is tearing her apart and de Laâge is equally good as a mystified young woman trying to find her way in unfamiliar circumstances. Messina has succeeded in taking his audience on a journey that stays with you and judging from this feature debut, he is a director to watch out for. The Wait is a complex piece of cinema that draws deeply from the well of loss, religion and contemplation.