Good thing The Wait has some serious formal heft, or the whole exercise would be intolerable. As is, the film can boast director Piero Messina’s eye for austere, isolating compositions pulled together by Francesco Di Giacamo’s cinematography. There are images here – a curtain closed at the centre of an endless expanse of darkness, a bikini-clad young girl floating in the infinite sea – with an order of magnitude more power than the story they sit within.
A pair of phenomenal actresses – Juliette Binoche and Lou de Laâge – are tasked with selling that story, but it’s too slender for their talents to shoulder (especially that Messina’s direction seems to be “subtler. Subtler!”). While some critics have attempted the explore the film’s ambiguity, as far I’m concerned, there is none (aside from an easily-dismissed red herring). This is a one-sentence story – a dead man’s mother uses her son’s girlfriend to sustain deep-seated denial – stretched out to feature length at its detriment. No matter how good the acting, the cinematography, the soundtrack (featuring The XX and Leonard Cohen), there just simply isn’t enough here to make this feel like an actual movie. The most baffling part? There are four screenwriters credited for this thing!