Philosophically astute and humanly vibrant (mainly through the amazing performance of Zapasiewiz), this tale of angst in face of untimely mortality operates in the same universe as Kieslowski and, like him, works wonders. A materialist and nearly sterlized societal context is the focus, yet embalmed with a touch of God through the uncanny intuition of the painful mystery of mortality and the dignity of the body.
Zanussi looks into the abyss with this wonderful film about mortality, faith and acceptance. Zbigniew Zapasiewicz is spectacular here as an aged physician suffering from inoperable cancer who must accept his fate and struggle with the concept of faith. The script is perhaps Zanussi's most approachable and certainly his most humanistic.
Don’t know if this is Zanussi’s last film, but a return to long conversations, or apparently so, with major themes and ideas. It occurs to me many films describe Chekhov’s death, and while they include a last drink, the details vary by story so it is hard to know what really happened at Chekhov's death except the last drink. Does anyone manage a last drink before death now? Maybe a tradition from another time.
Really 3.5. A typically intellectual film by Zanussi which ultimately is concerned with accepting your fate on terms that at least allow some exercise of personal agency rather than in accordance with terms set by others whether doctors, priests or family.
PC. The film within the film is a Catholic parable that reproduces itself in the film much less directly, by levels of repudiation of the ultimate path that leads believers to their abode: death. The whole film is more a discussion and fear's disturbance than an acceptance, and what Zanussi magnificently performs, like some Ermanno Olmis' films, is to build a materia(l) exystence in(to) a non-materia/faith system.
I've been on a major Zanussi trip since watching this. An amazing account of death and dying, the unmerciful inevitability and the indignity of the process. If that doesn't sell it to you, it's all done with a healthy dose of dry intellectual humour - delivered by Zapasiewicz with charm, acting prowess and allure. Keep cheery with this one.
A film about dying when you still crave life. A bold attempt to imitate something that can only be experienced first hand. Repetitive cynicism and cliche deliberations about suffering and God are redeemed by subtle and quiet moments of utmost terror. Moments you will have to confront sooner or later yourself. Hopefully later.
A travers une problématique morale assoupie, acceptant l'idée qu'un dénouement positif et bénéfique peut être acquis par des moyens détournés voire malhonnêtes, comme la tromperie ou la dissimulation (la fin justifie les moyens) Krzysztof Zanussi cantonne son personnage principal dans le refus de transiger avec les principes fondamentaux universels de morale et de probité. www.cinefiches.com