Time to Die (Dorato Kedzierzawska, 2007): Poland
This is a film that hinges on one persons performance and as such the casting is probably the most important aspect after the lighting. In the opening credits the director dedicated the film to his grandmother. His passion for the movie shines through as part of his grandmother most likely came into play. plays the role perfectly. One wonders how much of her performance was acting or her just being her persnickety self. Her constant monologue with the dog Philadelphia, phila for short was constantly dynamic. The dog should get the first canine Oscar for a leading dog award.
The old lady in the lead character lives fairly mundane existence but from the pace of the film and the things she does she, she seems to not be idly wasting away. It is true she spends a lot of time spying on the neighbor through a pair of binoculars. She yells at the kids when in reality she enjoys the distraction. Her loser of a son who is trying to sell the house underneath her. Her granddaughter is completely spoiled and completely out of touch with her grandmother. At one point she even tells her grand daughter that she is fat and will never have a boyfriend because she eats too much. She is devastated.
One cannot go to far into this film without mentioning the lighting or the mere fact that the film is made in black and white. Through the light grays and the reflections off windows we get the feeling of how she might be feeling in the twilight years of her life. We have establishing shots of many parts of the house in differing lights. At one point she remembers her youth. The movie shows her dancing in her house. The shot is through a window as she pirouettes in a wedding dress. There are actually two images of the same thing. It is a very ghostly thing. But much of this film is about how the women are going to live the last days of her life. Often we see her reflected in the window pains looking out highlighting her loneliness and age.
She also has flashbacks to when her son was a little boy. She would actually see him in the yard playing on the swing set or smiling back at her. Film is a visual medium so this is all done in silence in the film. There was actually quite a lot of dead space in terms of the usual background music of typical Hollywood music.
Her only real source of companionship comes from her dog. The script is masterful as her basic monologue crackles with energy even into the later parts of the film where it might get tedious. Her constantly watching her neighbors is also a clear of loneliness. She runs for the phone only to get there too late.
While the pace of the film is slow it was still a joy to watch. The central characters facial expression convey quite a bit of meaning. Her slow but steady walk showed her age but also her determination. Even when she got mad it was a mild controlled anger.