Laura CliffordBertrand (Vincent Lindon) dutifully visits his terminally ill wife every day, braving the long train and bus ride to and from the hospital. Lorraine (Emmanuelle Devos) not so willingly visits her boyfriend who was diagnosed with colon cancer. They bump into each other during one of their visits and begin to meet for coffee. Coffee turns into Lorraine offering to drive Bertrand to the train station and the two turn to each other in their time of grief and confusion as “Those Who Remain.”
This is a lean two-hander by actress and debut helmer/scribe Anne Le Ny that focuses almost solely on Bertrand and Lorraine. You never see their ill significant others, doctors or nurses as the camera follows Bertrand through his life away from the hospital. He has a stepdaughter, Valentine (Yeelem Jappain), who hates him and has real issues coping with her mother’s cancer. His sister, Nathalie (director Le Ny), with husband Jean-Paul (Gregoire Oestermann) and baby, visits to help her brother as his wife nears death. (This visit offers some wry humor with the scatterbrained, unobservant Nathalie and Jean-Paul missing such important milestones as baby’s first step.) Lindon conveys the sadness and stoicism that make up Bertrand.
Lorraine’s life is sketchier than Bertrand’s. We know she is a graphics designer, drives a car and is a bit of a ditz. She lacks his patience Bertrand has suffered his wife’s frequent hospital stays for five years and faithfully attended her and has grave doubts that she can stick by her man when he has to wear a colostomy bag. She seems as flighty and shallow as Bertrand is stoic and calm. The water and oil personalities of the two characters blend surprisingly well, mainly due to the efforts of the fine actors.
Le Ny relies on her stars and their chemistry (Lindon and Devos appeared together in the 2005 film, “La Moustache”) to flesh out the rather simple story. Things, like Valentine’s change of ‘tude, are handled in a cliched manner. The director-writer-actress may have bitten of more than she could comfortably chew but it is an interesting, well-acted first work. I give it a B.
“Those Who Remain” tells the story of a man and a woman who meet in a hospital’s cancer unit as they support their ailing spouses, and it actually manages to be pretty funny even though the romance that blooms is a melancholy affair. This character study in two parts – Cesar nominated Vincent Lindon’s (“Vendredi Soir”) being the more central of the two – is about how people deal with grief in a myriad of ways. A red-headed Emmanuelle Devos (“Kings and Queen,” Lindon’s “La Moustache” costar) is almost unrecognizable as the awkward, flaky, pot smoking Lorraine. B+
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