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When Loving Someone is Committing To Suffering as Well


By Roger Costa


A beautiful and melancholic love song claims that loving someone is committing oneself to the inevitable suffering that comes along with. When does it start nobody knows, just like the strong and uncontrollable feeling of love- it comes unexpected and most of the time, we are not prepared with a reasonable reaction. The sense of love and suffering, walking together is a predominant element in this incredibly moving study on the feminine universe. I would call it a lock for Virginie Efira, as a Best Actress front-runner contender for any possible Award we’ll see this year. She masterly transports these feelings of contentment, suffering, longing, desire and insecurity, anchoring the film with her beauty, seduction and luscious nuance. The work she does here, along with her preview roles, only confirms herself as a top leader in the European arthouse, an emerging star that quickly rose to the top, a result earned after embodying several unforgettable female heroines. Here she plays Rachel, a well-established professor, running a very busy life. She is engaged in her students’ efforts towards becoming successful adults. She is very fond of a particularly headstrong one, who she helps seeking job opportunities as a next step in his life. She meets her father and sister for Jewish rituals and cerimonies, where they also remember her late mother. After completing her school duties, as well as participating on intense meetings with the rest of the school’s team, she finds enthusiasm and motivation at the guitar classes.

There, she meets a man, they have a drink, he walks her home, touches her hand, and the mutual chemistry sparks. Next they are sleeping together, having friends over, sharing incredible moments, and gradually, they fall in love, in which seems to be a perfect opportunity for both, mature, modern adults on the edge of mid-life, in search of accomplishment and mutual love and care. One beautiful scene describes the longing they both feel, and how they embrace this sudden love affair: she meticulously observes every inch of his body while he is on the shower, warning him that she is “admiring him”. He has a little daughter who is introduced to the narrative and becomes the center of attention for Rachel and for the viewer. She is totally adorable and enchanting, as well as very smart and emotionally efficient. For such a young actress she is a master of emotions: just watch how she swings moods in some parts of the film, either when she is in good terms with Rachel as her new stepmom, or when she is playing around other kids, or when she has sudden surges of jealousy and emotional disorder. She is a brilliant child actress to be watched very closely.

Writer-Director Rebecca Zlotowski’s Sundance, Venice and Toronto selected acclaimed erotic and humane drama is one of this year’s most sensitive, perceptive, empathic, and timely films. Its relationships’ depth is immersive, masterly introduced and executed. While Rachel is doing her best to make things right, despite she is running out of time, the director allows the viewer to become attached to every other character in the movie, unveiling their motives and expectations: Rachel’s widower father and pregnant sister; little Leila and her emotionally manipulative mother (played by Chiarra Mastroianni, in a key role); the frustrations and misunderstandings of her lover, a man at a constant self-battle; an ill woman whom Rachel develops a connection with at Leila’s sports practice; and the well-spirited thinker and doctor who diagnosis Rachel with little time left to have a baby, ensuring her that the time is now, she should go for it. And so she does. Hopeful that she can finally make it with an ideal man, she hopes to get pregnant and have a baby. After many attempts, and following tips provided for women at her age, she might score a chance, but her sister does it first. The news comes well received, as the family embraces the arrival of the new member. But Rachel’s love affair faces trouble and challenges, especially with his ex-wife around, and Leila’s constant longings for the mother and jealously issues.

Rachel is a woman who will leave a great impact in everyone that comes accross her way, especially those she loves and cares. She is enigmatic, gorgeous, sensual, kind, smart and determined. She is the soul of this extraordinary film, one of the most pleasurable films I’ve seen this year so far. A beautiful, powerful and impactful study on human connection, on the search for real love amidst a chaotic and superficial world, on the hope that keeps us moving, on love that continues to breathe and coordinate the world. And despite the suffering, love is still worth taking all the risks. So is Rachel to say.

(Music Box Films. 4/21. IFC Center.)

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