Review:  Moody and in mourning, ‘L’Attesa (The Wait)’ explores depths of grief

A psychological connection forms between two women around an unspoken secret in “L’Attesa (The Wait),” the feature debut of director Piero Messina. Jeanne (Lou de Laâge), on a trip to visit her estranged boyfriend, Giuseppe, at his home in Italy, unknowingly wanders into an oppressively stifling atmosphere of grief, though no one is being quite truthful with her.

She waits for Giuseppe to arrive, even as his mother, Anna (Juliette Binoche), mourns someone — her brother, she claims. The untruths become a game of psychological cat and mouse between the women, with Jeanne leaving Giuseppe voicemails wondering where he is, and the women beginning to bond under the Sicilian sun.

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The film starts interminably heavy and slow beneath a somber, dark cloak that begins to lift when Jeanne arrives with a sense of youthful energy and sensuality that brighten the dark and heavy rooms of the house. Her presence as a creature that needs tending brings an immediacy to the moment, and Anna begins to indulge in corporeal pleasures, like cooking, to entertain her guest.

The women offer each other a bit of a reprieve from a reality that is never entirely made clear and differs for each of them. Only the houseman, Pietro (Giorgio Colangeli), stands for the truth. The film is a moody and lyrical contemplation of grief and the connections that can be found within the void of loss.


“L’Attesa (The Wait)”

In French and Italian with English subtitlesNot rated

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Royal, West Los Angeles