The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema] - MORE THAN EVER | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema] - MORE THAN EVER

More Than Ever review
Following a terminal diagnosis, a woman leaves her husband to visit a vlogger in Norway.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Emily Atef

Starring: Vicky Krieps, Gaspard Ulliel, Bjørn Floberg

More Than Ever poster

Illness and loneliness - say the words quickly and they blur into one. The homophonic aspect of both maladies is ironic: even if you are lucky enough to have love and assistance during sickness, the ordeal is intractably isolating. Yes, support exists, and people do what they can, but in the end, it's you and your sickness and the cold dark of uncertainty. Your pain and suffering, and your brave face pasted over it all.

More Than Ever review

What a potentially sombre start to the year Emily Atef's (with writing duties shared with Lars Hubrich) More Than Ever offers, then. Vicky Krieps plays Hélène, who lives the bourgeois dream with her handsome husband Matthieu (Gaspard Ulliel - in an extra layer of sadness, More Than Ever was the penultimate film the actor completed before his untimely death in 2022) in Bordeaux. A dark cloud appears on the horizon, and Hélène’s medical scans, when she is diagnosed with a rare lung disease. With clipped French practicality, a doctor informs the couple that survival of prospective surgery has a 50% success rate, and that Hélène's quality of life will be drastically limited without an operation.

At once, there is the immediate malady for Hélène to comprehend, but also, as these things never come alone, there is too the prospect of a stolen or severely truncated future to negotiate. To demonstrate, More Than Ever opens at one of those dinner parties which people like Hélène and Matthieu frequent to share their burgeoning potentials with peers. A woman bangs on about her pregnancy, triggering Hélène to leave in tears with Matthieu helplessly following. Its not just what you'll lose, it is also what you can never have.

More Than Ever review

More Than Ever depicts illness and that attendant sense of being in life's shadow with an unflinching but unceremonious camera. Naturally, most of the film's compulsive humanity rests on the great Krieps (after last month's Corsage it's been bugging me who she physically reminds me of so much: Phoebe Waller Bridge, obv), but the subtlety of Atef's filmmaking has a magnetic relatability. There is an absence of contrived drama, and instead Atef communicates a constant dread which has to be overlaid with simply "getting on with things": the crushing hallmark of such dire situations (indulgence alert: the plights outlined in More Than Ever are painfully close to events which happened to me last year, with yours truly in the Matthieu role of uxorious but ultimately useless partner. You don’t necessarily need to have experienced the sickening rush of seeing the person you care most about in the world have a terrible time of it to appreciate More Than Ever but the deeply felt accuracy of the representation is unbearably poignant if you have. TW).

Matthieu tries, but is eventually alienated by events, going out to clubs and getting drunk and doing that thing on the dance floor men in films do when they deliberately rub their hand up their face and into their hair in order to look a bit forlorn. Meanwhile, perhaps Hélène has found someone who might just empathise with her situation: Norwegian blogger, Mister, or Bent (Bjørn Floberg), another member of the midnight club who documents his experiences with illness online. Bent also happens to live in Norway, one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Spurred by the hope of shared experience, Hélène decides to go on a road trip...

More Than Ever review

From the cramped streets and medical offices of earlier, the frame opens up into the deep blues and creams which characterise the top of Europe. Will Hélène find solace in the snowy fjords and cool isolation that Norvège provides? What do you reckon? Bent turns out to be not exactly how he presented himself, and the lack of mobile reception means that a simple text to Matthieu involves a lengthy hike through the snow (there is an intriguing, and pleasingly unfashionable, subtheme in More Than Ever which posits online connection as a superficial relation to its physical counterpart). Perhaps in life the most devastating truth is that we can never really seek out our own truths or endings. Welcome or not, such finalities will instead end up finding us.

More Than Ever is in UK/ROI cinemas from January 20th.

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