Waiting for You

 

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A tale that moves well but is lacking when it comes to emotional depth.

 
Waiting for You

Fanny Ardant as Madeleine Brown

 

For the first half of this modest but engaging piece, it is entirely to its advantage that the quality which stands out is the adroit storytelling. Following a very brief preface in France, Waiting for You wastes no time in plunging us into its plot. Len Ashton dies in London leaving debts behind him and a disgruntled son, Paul (Colin Morgan), who believes that his mother (Clare Holman) deserved better. It’s a reaction that leads this young man, now in his twenties and working with indifference in a bookstore, to uproot himself and set out on a trip in the hope of uncovering his father’s secret past. On this deathbed, Len had spoken in vague terms of a man named Brown under whom he had served in Aden in the 1960s implying that this man had cheated him out of sacks of pearls. The dead man’s papers provide a pointer to a village in France as containing the key to all this, opening up the possibility that an investigation will unearth not further debts but something substantial to which the dead man is due. Add the discovery of a postcard from this village bearing a dramatic message (“Come here again and I’ll kill you”) and it makes sense that Paul should arrive there incognito - whereupon he locates Brown’s daughter, Madeleine (Fanny Ardant).

 

Such material may not suggest anything exceptional, but it holds out the promise of an entertaining piece and Charles Garrad’s film (which he also co-scripted) is admirably cast, moves well and uses both sound effects and music to contribute atmosphere without overdoing things. But, if the story is really what counts, it is unfortunate that as it develops it become less and less persuasive.

 

When everything turns on hidden secrets, it is important that the secrets when revealed should be both convincing and powerful. Here, however, what emerges is diverse in detail in a way which suggests that the writers were unsure what kind of a mystery tale they wanted to give us. War crimes come into it but only in passing while as a subplot Paul’s quest leads him into a romance with a local girl in the village (Audrey Bastien). Meanwhile what Paul is discovering will eventually clarify the character of the enigmatic Madeleine. Yet it all happens too superficially (she even at one point appears brandishing a gun) and, if the revelations prove to have an emotional core, it is all handled too cursorily to be truly effective. Waiting for You has been made with some thought including an apt balance between dialogue in English and that in French with subtitles - indeed this film may even have been a labour of love for Charles Garrad. However, the fact is that the treatment of the mystery in its early stages is far more satisfying than what follows, the film’s second half being far less sure-footed especially when it comes to expressing the pain that is at the heart of Madeleine’s story.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Colin Morgan, Fanny Ardant, Audrey Bastien, Abdelkrim Bahloul, Clare Holman, Norah Lehembre, Bellamine Abdelmalek, Fergus Craig, Vincent Jouan, Sam Cox.

 

Dir Charles Garrad, Pro Simon Bosanquet, Screenplay Charles Garrad and Hugh Stoddart, Ph David Raedeker, Pro Des Ben Smith, Ed Anuree de Silva, Costumes Wanda Wellard.

 

Popular Films/Generator Entertainment-Miracle Comms.
92 mins. UK/France. 2017. Rel: 26 October 2018. Cert. 12A.