Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

"It is only sporadically involving with even the usually hypnotic Huppert struggling to make an impression." | Photo: © 2019 Photo Guy Ferrandis / SBS Productions

There is much to relish in Ira Sachs’ bitter-sweet tragic comedy constructed around Isabelle Huppert as Frankie, a film and TV star who has gathered her wide extended family for a holiday in Portugal so she can reveal the fact that she is dying.

They represent a motley crew, including her second husband Jimmy (played by Brendan Gleeson), her son Paul (Jérémie Renier), daughter Sylvia (Vinette Robinson), friend Irene (Marisa Tomei) who has brought along her boyfriend Gary (Greg Kinnear).

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Set against the stunning backdrop of the Portuguese city of Sintra, this could have made for a fascinating ensemble piece conducted in the shadow of looming mortality.

In the event, it is only sporadically involving with even the usually hypnotic Huppert struggling to make an impression as the actress who hopes to persuade her friends and family that she has come to terms with her impending demise.

There are lots of plots and subplots about infidelity and relationships and the emptiness of much of contemporary living and mores (the script is co-written by Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias), all confronted by the inevitability of the final exit.

Sachs, who made Love Is Strange and Keep The Lights On, has a reputation for small and intimate observations of human foibles. Here he takes on the challenge of a larger canvas, some of which tends to spin out of control rather than being focused.

Still, with this calibre of casting and the eye-catching setting there is more than enough to carry it along. There is a lurking regret, however, that it could have been so much better.

Reviewed on: 21 May 2019
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Three generations grappling with a life-changing experience during one day of a vacation in Sintra, Portugal, a historic town known for its dense gardens and fairy-tale villas and palaces.

Director: Ira Sachs

Writer: Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Brendan Gleeson, Marisa Tomei, Jérémie Renier, Pascal Greggory, Vinette Robinson, Ariyon Bakare, Carloto Cotta

Year: 2019

Runtime: 98 minutes

Country: France, Portugal, Belgium, US


Cannes 2019

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