Star Rating:


Director: Michel Franco

Actors: Tim Roth, Bitsie Tulloch, Maribeth Monroe

Release Date: Friday 19th February 2016

Genre(s): Drama

Running time: 93 minutes

Sometimes it’s best to know nothing about a film going in (a risk on the filmmakers’ part in this era of pre-sold audiences) because Chronic’s charms are slowly revealed. An engrossing drama from Michel Franco (After Lucia), the premise, the film’s raison d’etre, only becomes apparent as the film winds up; some synopses have bizarrely given this, and even the reasons behind Roth’s distant and sullen behaviour throughout, away.

Don’t read them. Don’t read anything on Chronic. In fact stop reading this review and just go see it. It’s a difficult but rewarding film that tackles big issues and boasts a career-best turn from Tim Roth. Hopefully that’s enough to entice. For the determined to know a little more before purchasing a ticket, here goes spoiler free sum up…

Tim Roth is a home nurse easing the terminally ill and those suffering from strokes through their days. Although emotionally connected to his patients – he sometimes sends the night shift packing because a patient has had a difficult day, and will sit holding their hand throughout the night – the connection seems to be a professional approach, in that he can only do his job properly if he’s emotionally invested. But there’s something up with Roth, something that haunts him, which might have something to do with the woman he follows, or the teenage girl (Sutherland) whose Facebook photos he checks out when he finally does make it home to his sparse apartment.

So that’s all there is to go on and to say anymore would be criminal. Why he does what he does and why feels what he feels (or what he can’t bring himself to feel in this case) is kept hidden from the audience until near the end; in keeping with the tone these surprises are presented matter-of-factly. It’s a slow burner - so slow in fact it’s tough to see where it’s going; a subplot involving the family of a stroke victim, miffed at being excluded from Roth’s particularly personal treatment, take exception to his hands on approach, doesn’t feed into the main narrative thrust but as the story develops it does go some way to explain Roth’s actions later in the film. The last shot will inspire debate as to where the film stands on the morally murky issues it tackles.

Apologies for the detail-light review but you’re intrigued, right? Go see it.