L’Attesa (The Wait)
In a tribute to its title, L’Attesa makes the audience wait for any clues as to the nature of the story. The sparse details given are suggested in glances, gazes, and lingering shots. Jeanne, a young woman from Paris, has come to Sicily to visit her boyfriend Guiseppe and to meet his mother, Anna. But Guiseppe is mysteriously absent and Anna avoids Jeanne’s questions of his whereabouts. Nothing is certain in this slow-burning drama, which confirms very little and leaves much unsaid.
For those who find the European style of filmmaking frustrating, the opening of L’Attesa may seem overwrought. The premise is outlined not in dialogue but in a series of shots: a young woman collecting her luggage, a man obscuring mirrors with black cloth. It takes patience to maintain interest in the leisurely storytelling, but perseverance is rewarded following the fragmented opening. Anna’s initial reticence at meeting Jeanne grows into a close bond between the two women, marred by Anna’s visible distress at an unknown incident. Juliette Binoche is a reliable presence as the anguished mother, whose emotive face drives much of the plot.
Having worked as an assistant director on Paolo Sorrentino’s acclaimed The Great Beauty (2013), L’Attesa marks Piero Messina’s feature film debut. There are many stylistic similarities with Sorrentino’s work: both narrate through images and embrace minimalism in the portrayal of their characters. Both see the value in not spelling everything out for the viewer, instead leaving certain elements deliberately hazy or secret altogether.
Although sluggish at first, L’Attesa ensnares you in a tale of mystery, confusion and grief in which no one fully understands what’s going on – not least the audience. A lesser movie would feel pretentious but here the unknowns are tempered by significant details and subtle glances that reveal more than one might expect. Mesmerising visuals and the intelligent execution of a simple story elevate this film from a conventional drama to a quiet masterpiece.
L’Attesa (The Wait) is released nationwide on 8th July 2016.
Watch the trailer for L’Attesa (The Wait) here: