Past, present, and future collide when Saul (Peter Sarsgaard) follows Sylvia (Jessica Chastain) home from their high school reunion, in this touching and masterful film by director Michel Franco.
Silvia (Jessica Chastain) works at a public home in New York City for adults struggling with mental health conditions. She leads a simple and structured life: her daughter, her job, her AA meetings. She meets Saul (Peter Sarsgaard) in the worst circumstances, after he has creepily followed her home from their high school reunion party and she finds him dripping wet and freezing outside her door the next morning. Their surprise encounter will profoundly impact both of them as they open the door to the past.
The story was shot by frequent collaborator Yves Cape with the natural austerity that has come to define most of writer-director Michel Franco’s ouvre, as does his ability to not shy away from thorny issues on screen but instead explore the often painful vulnerability they contain. Dealing with complex themes of identity and trust, the loss of self, and the pervasiveness of hope, Franco (New Order, TIFF ’20; Sundown, TIFF ’21) and his experienced leads go for broke without ever overwhelming the audience.
The film’s finely attuned supporting cast including Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie, Unbelievable) and Josh Charles (The Good Wife) help take the story to an unexpected and unforgettable place. In this touching and profound piece, memory — often thought to be the foundation of who we are — does not define the limits of what it means to be human.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: sexual content, mature themes