Eye For Film >> Movies >> Vanity (2015) Film Review
Reviewed by: Richard Mowe
A comedy of sorts about euthanasia may seem like a contradiction in terms but Swiss director Lionel Baier pulls it off with a delicate aplomb in his seventh feature. The humour emerges from the predicaments of the characters trying to escape from the inevitability of death. Woody Allen had an appropriate quote on the subject: “I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
That mood pervades the film when the character of David Miller (Patrick Lapp), an elderly architect, decides to end it all (obviously easier in Switzerland than most other countries). He books in to a motel which, back in the day, he helped to construct with his architect wife, inspired by a Sixties road trip to the States. It has fallen on hard times and is in state of disrepair - Baier intriguingly shows us how it was in its heyday.
The architect has put all the necessary details in place at an organisation for assisted suicide and awaits Espe (veteran Spanish actress Carmen Maura) who is supposed to help him to the final exit. He also strikes up a conversation with a young Russian (Ivan Georgiev) in the next door room who “services” a string of male clients in Lausanne (eagle eyes will spot Baier in a brief cameo as a customer). Miller wants him also to be present in the "departure lounge".
When Esme arrives it becomes clear that she is not entirely confident about the procedures but feels a close connection to the architect whose predicament has parallels with the demise of her own husband. Cue for more revelations ...
The night proceeds in spurts and stutters - and what should have been a simple exercise becomes ever more complicated in its ramifications. Baier explores the multiple choices now available to the baby boomer generation from sexuality to gender rights and the ultimate decision of when and how they may want to die.
With his two guardian angels by his side, the architect has created his own instant nuclear family to guide him on his way. The Christmassy background to the narrative gives an added sense of poignancy while the trio of actors give impeccable performances and never miss a beat.
Baier has a created a beautifully modulated and measured odyssey around matters of life and death which will linger long after the final credits.Reviewed on: 14 Aug 2015