Juliette Binoche is undeniably one of the best actresses of our time. There is a handful of actors and actresses that I seek out everything that they star in just because of how reliable they are as an actor. Binoche is undoubtedly one of these actors. While not all of the films she stars in are great, she is nothing short of sublime in all of her roles. After hearing some relatively positive reception about The Wait coming out of Venice, I was eager to check out the film. Sadly, it was not anything particularly special. Binoche delivers a phenomenal performance here, but the film as a whole is a drudgery to get through. Binoche conquers every moment that she is onscreen for, but she does not have anything to work with here, which holds this back from being one of her best performances of the past decade. Binoche always showcases her ability best as an actress when she is playing off of another actor or actress. Recently in Clouds of Sils Maria, she plays wondrously off of Kristen Stewart in such a way that it defines the film. The material that Assayas has on his hands is undeniably great but watching Stewart and Binoche have these incredibly extensive monologues for long periods of time is what makes Clouds one of the most engrossing pieces of cinema from the past few years.
It’s apparent that The Wait is a feature debut. Director Piero Messina lacks the unique vision that the film needed to maintain the interest of his audience throughout the length of a feature. Messina does an adequate job of grabbing us from the start with a gorgeous sequence that showcases the gorgeous cinematography from Francesco Di Giacomo, but not much after that ever grabs the audience. Outside of the wonderful central performance from Binoche, the only other real positive attribute to The Wait is Di Giacomo’s undeniable breathtaking camerawork. Everything in this looks utterly flawless, whether Di Giacomo is shooting a menial task or a gorgeous landscape. The problem with the film is that Messina does not engage the audience in any which way. We never understand why Binoche’s character, Anna, is doing the things she is doing. Messina does not dive deep enough into her character to ever allow the audience to get inside her head. Another incredibly problematic aspect with the film is that Messina creates dramatic irony early on in The Wait by revealing the information that Anna is holding back from everyone else. Messina does not dive into any of the themes that he touches upon throughout the film. There are so many interesting routes that The Wait could have gone on, but it just plods along without any real purpose, which makes for one of monotonous outings of the years so far.