Grief is a hard thing to go through and everyone always deals with it differently. Most films never truly flesh out the different stages of grief, or seek to fully develop the characters while within the throes of it, but this is something Chorus does very well as it explores the changes and devastation that grief can cause.
Set in Montreal, Irene (Fanny Mallette) has had 10 years to deal with her 8 year old son’s disappearance and yet she finds that while she’s been able to live her life, she’s never gotten over it completely, has never let time heal her and wonders if time does, in fact, heal. Irene has her music career, her rocky relationship with her mother (Genevieve Bujold) and the remains of a broken marriage after her husband Christophe (Sébastien Ricard) leaves her and moves to Mexico.
The film opens with the confession of their son’s kidnapper, who admits to murdering him and gives up the location of the remains. This news is devastating, and after Irene and Christophe find out, they have only each other to lean on for comfort. But will the news that brings back so much pain from the past be strong enough to bring them back together?
Director and screenwriter François Delisle doesn’t implicitly make this out to be a reunion romance, which it has the potential to turn into but never quite gets there. This is actually refreshing because in the face of all this grief, the story’s couple have a lot to sort out and get over, their relationship only being one of these things. Delisle shoots the film in black and white and this really sets the tone of the film. It isn’t happy, nor does it ever fool you into thinking so.
The film explores grief, delves into the subject and concept very boldly and without preamble. There are tough conversations had, tough choices made, and character development throughout the entire process. The film begs the questions: Do we ever get over our grief? Does time help us live our lives? Should unfinished business stay unfinished, and does closure make it easier to deal? You can interpret your answers based on what’s given to us, but it’s an extremely intimate look at many of these themes and Delisle treats each of them with respect.
The film wouldn’t be anything without the power behind its performances to really take this from just a film to a more personal and engaging experience. Fanny Mallette and Sébastien Ricard are wonderful and highly tuned into their characters’ emotions. Their sometimes uncomfortable interactions bring validity to moments of intensity and overwhelming feeling. They have great chemistry and their powerful portrayals bring home the severity of the issues they are dealing with.
Chorus is an emotionally powerful and well-developed story that takes us into the personal lives of the grieving characters and it uses the past to inform the present and creates an atmosphere of despair as well as hope after closure has happened. Its execution is affecting and chock-full of great scenes, great chemistry between the cast, and a story that is basic, but wonderfully told and well-balanced in its portrayal, which thoroughly examines the stages of grief and its long-term effects.