Juliette Binoche’s Anna is mourning the loss of her son, Giuseppe, as we witness the sombre religious rites and a house blacked out from daylight with mirrors covered. She receives a call from Giuseppe’s girlfriend, Jeanne, who is due to visit, but she doesn’t tell her about Giuseppe.
Jeanne arrives while family members are still present, and is clearly confused by what she sees. At first Anna doesn’t want to see her, but when she does she says that she has just lost her brother. One gets the feeling that Anna sees Jeanne as a continuing link with her son, there being more than a touch of supernatural about this film.
As time passes the two women become close, with Anna wanting to know more about Jeanne’s relationship with Giuseppe. Jeanne remains confused, finding Anna quite strange, but she looks forward to Giuseppe’s imminent arrival. We sense Anna’s pleasure in Jeanne’s company, while away from her she suffers greatly from her loss. Their relationship is the heart of this film, and I drew comparisons with Clouds of Sils Maria, another two-hander film in which Binoche played opposite Kristen Stewart. A different but perhaps equally strange relationship to the one in this film.
Of course the time had to come where Anna must face up to telling Jeanne the truth, or something! She choses ‘something’, trying to let Jeanne down gently, but it turns out to be far from gentle. Jeanne packs to leave while Anna goes to town for the Easter festival, where the religious symbolism clearly has a profound affect on her. It is at this point we see a scene reminiscent of the end of the film Amour, leaving us to decide whether we’ve witnessed reality or fantasy.
Later, as Jeanne leaves, and the two hug emotionally, we sense that she may finally have put two and two together.
This is a film that is full of symbolism and a fair degree of ambiguity, with superb performances from the two female leads, great cinematography and a haunting soundtrack.