More than Ever (Plus que Jamais)
Contemplating the impact of illness on romantic relationships, Emily Atef’s More than Ever is a powerful story told with equal parts poeticism and intimacy.
The film follows Hélène, a terminally ill woman who lives in France with her loving husband, Mathieu (Gaspard Ulliel). Feeling lost and isolated from her partner and peers, whom she feels are not equipped to emotionally support her, the protagonist begins following the blog of a terminally ill man (Bjørn Floberg) living in the serenity of the Norwegian mountains. Hélène, resonating with the man’s dispensation of platitudes (“I hate healthy persons,” he proudly proclaims) decides to travel to Norway alone, to the confusion of Mathieu, who wants her to stay in France in case a suitable lung donor becomes available. Staying in a boathouse attached to the man’s property, Hélène comes to a profound understanding, which changes her perspective on her illness and her relationship with Mathieu. The film is potent in its treatment of such an emotionally demanding subject matter, yet quietly disciplined in its execution.
The foundation on which any impactful study of relationships is built consists of a believable depiction of one. Atef’s script, co-written with Lars Hubrich, and the performances of Krieps and Ulliel, brilliantly paint this picture, selling their devotion to one another with a lifelike warmth and authenticity. Atef’s direction of two love scenes, which rival the impact of those orchestrated by David Cronenberg in A History of Violence in their power and nuance, also bestows the production with one of most emotionally truthful on-screen relationships in recent times. Krieps, a naturally wistful screen presence, offers a magnificent performance that is typically committed and nuanced. Hélène spends much of the film unable to fully articulate how she feels, but the actor always tethers her character’s state of mind to something truthful and recognisable.
More than Ever is not just intriguingly written and performed, but also visually stunning at times. Yves Cape shoots the snowy Norwegian peaks with an expansiveness and crystal clarity that is breathtaking, and, set in stark contrast to the dimly lit interiors of the first portion of the film set in France, unlocks the full cinematic potential of the location.
Debuting in the Un Certain Regard of this month’s Cannes Film Festival, More than Ever is an understated, unpretentious, profoundly moving experience of pathos, and a showcase for Vicky Krieps’s captivating screen presence.
More than Ever (Plus que Jamais) does not have a UK release date yet.
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