Two sisters try to reconcile their differences in this arty drama. 3/5 stars
Alicia Vikander and Eva Green give their all as estranged sisters struggling for reconciliation in this elegant art-house drama.
The pair haven't seen each other in years when elder sister Emilie (Green) whisks prickly artist Ines (Vikander) to a mysterious destination somewhere in Europe, a place she calls 'the most beautiful' in the world. It turns out to be a luxurious euthanasia clinic-cum-hotel, where the terminally ill Emilie plans to end her life after six days.
'Most of our guests prefer the helicopter option,' announces Adrian Lester's polished manager as the sisters arrive by chauffeured car at the remote wooded location - which gives you some idea of the rarefied air the film's characters are breathing.
Swedish writer-director Lisa Langseth (making her English-language debut) doesn't go in for the playful satire of Paolo Sorrentino's Youth or the Gothic strangeness of Gore Verbinski's A Cure for Wellness - two other recent films set in bizarre hotels for the very rich. And she doesn't trouble our sympathies with the establishment's entitled other clients, typified by Charles Dance's boorish, classic-rock-loving Englishman.
However, as more details of Ines and Emilie's troubled backstory slowly emerge, their knotty, nettlesome relationship gains a deeper hold on our attention. The two really are chalk and cheese. Emilie's emotions flood through her, while Ines bottles things up, hiding her own insecurities behind a veneer of toughness and scepticism. Yet as they pick over old sores under the eye of Charlotte Rampling's calm, unruffled staff member Marina, you can see how their wounds spring from the same source.
This film premieres on 25th June.
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A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.