piero messina

FILM REVIEW: Juliette Binoche beautifully waits in “L’Attesa”

The iconic French star plays a bereaved mother who hosts a visit from her dead son's girlfriend in this melancholy drama.

True to its title, “The Wait” (“L’attesa”) is about people waiting for others to arrive or return, and it begins with an image of one of history’s most eagerly anticipated figures: Jesus Christ, in the form of a large crucifix displayed in a Sicilian church where a funeral is being held. Easter is just days away, so death and resurrection are already on the minds of the mourners in this very Catholic country.

Slowly, dreamily, first-time director Piero Messina moves the camera to reveal not who’s in the casket but who’s standing off to the side, dazed, clearly the mourner who has suffered the greatest loss. She is Anna (Juliette Binoche), a Frenchwoman who married (and eventually divorced) a Sicilian man and has an adult son named Giuseppe. Not long after the funeral, the mirrors still covered in black cloth and Anna still near-catatonic with grief, she receives a guest: Jeanne (Lou de La├óge), Giuseppe’s girlfriend, arriving for a pre-arranged visit. But where, Jeanne wants to know, is Giuseppe?