What does it mean to die "peacefully"? Is it possible to find grace and joy in something so solemn? Death has the power of forgiveness, and empathy is at the heart of Emmanuel Bercot's devastating cancer drama, Paisible, which follows a year in the life of a young man faced with an incurable diagnosis.
Benoit Maghimel ("The Piano Teacher") stars as Benjamin, a 39-year-old and self-confessed loser drama teacher who, after months of back pain, discovers that he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. also to his mother Crystal (Catherine Deneuve), who likes to think that she can control the pain and happiness in her son's life.
Whichever path they choose to "fight" the disease, it will be fatal for Benjamin. He will die of illness. However, how he spends this past year – whether it be healing, solitude or release – is entirely up to him. Magimel and Deneuve got along well and, like many adults, parents and children, maintained a relationship, even if it wasn't fun.
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Fortunately for Benjamin, he has the best doctor in the world, a symbol of compassion, in the person of Dr. Edde (Gabriel Sarah), a real-life oncologist who Berko hires as a consultant before quickly accepting his first acting role. . The doctor was calm, thoughtful and cheerful; He listened to Benjamin, not giving in to his patient tendencies for bittersweet melodrama. He is the greatest surprise and value of the film, his wisdom and generosity not only to the people in his community but also to his colleagues. This "silence" sometimes distances us from the patient's world and immerses us in the emotional stress it exerts on other nurses and doctors. It's a clever way to show how cancer affects everyone.
As a two-hour lesson on how to deal with someone with a terminal diagnosis, The Calm is second to none. This is a long term public service that explains how to show patience and gratitude to those who seek the unthinkable. Dr. Lessons Edde for Benjamin and Crystal—the lesson on clearing conscience, finding beauty—seems to have a message for them and the audience. At some point, everyone, one way or another, will do this for themselves or someone they love. The better we prepare for what we never prepared for, the more peaceful death will be.
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But as a film, "Peace" too often strays from melodramatic and exaggerated. We continue to follow Benjamin to his acting classes, where he teaches a group of 20-year-olds how to upgrade or sell at any time, seemingly without even realizing what he's doing. Deneuve, a screen legend, is credited with many scenes where he stands and cries by the window. Realistically? Maybe, but repetitive and jarring in a context that continues to hammer the horror of what is going on.
It doesn't help that Peaceful is filled with subplots that are far less important than the central mother-daughter dynamic. Benjamin's constant flirting with married nurse Eugenie (Cécile de France, Lost Illusions) without guilt and chemistry; Most likely what he sees in himself, or some aspect of his inner life, goes unnoticed. It also distracts from the melodrama of Benjamin's parents, who meet his American ex-girlfriend Anna (Melissa George) and his son Leander (Oscar Morgan). When Leander appears in the middle of the film, the narrative seems to change direction for a moment, shifting from mother and son to father and son. But Leandro was turned down during a terrace discussion with Dr. Edde about his father's health and banished to the screen.
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“Peace” is undeniably a poignant and straightforward portrayal of the life of a man battling cancer and suffering from the disease himself, unafraid to face Benjamin's pain. Throughout the duration of the film, he dies, getting weaker and sadder and less concerned about the world around him. These are difficult times, no matter how much the audience suffers from the disease, and perhaps even worse for those who have lost someone. That Benjamin himself finally reached catharsis on his journey to death comforts the audience who have suffered with him. The film is haunted by an overdramatic score (Eric Neveu, "Cézanne et moi") that plays with unhappiness and deprives the protagonist of the peace he seeks.
Cancer drama occupies a strange place in the film landscape; Sometimes it's hard to imagine who they really are as they explore the rare pain and happiness to rule their lives before they end. This shows that they are often more educational than art lovers, and educational than emotional, but for those who don't have to go through it. But the universality of death is not synonymous with the universality of the experience of death, and while films will show us what the ideal ending would look like, they try to capture shooting stars. Benjamin's story reaches such a beautiful cathartic point that the film seems to have worked backwards to get to the point where he dies long before he survives.
Peaceful opens October 28 in New York and November 4 in Los Angeles through Distrib Films.