Review by Dan Skip Allen
There have been many films dealing with the illness of a family member or loved one, and Emmanuelle Bercot's Peaceful is another such film. It's a pretty straightforward drama about a sick man, but it's strong enough to be worth your time.
Benjamin (Benoit Magimel) is a 39-year-old acting teacher who tries to get the most out of his students. Unbeknownst to his students, he has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. His mother (Catherine Deneuve) worries that he hasn't taken his diagnosis seriously. She gets him to see a specialist, Dr. Eddie (Gabriel A Sara). He has some unusual methods of doctoring, but in the end, he does his job perfectly regarding how he prepares his terminally ill patients for what they need to be ready for with these types of illnesses.
The director Bercot handles this subject matter very well. What could have been a very melodramatic story turns out to be a very touching film about a sick man, his mother, and the physicians trying to help him get better. The acting she gets from her cast is very good all-around. Cecile De France also turns in a strong performance as a nurse who gives the main character some much-needed comfort during a hard time for him and his mother.
A plot device in this movie that is very well used is that the film spanned a year in time, and as that time went by, so did the seasons. This man's illness scanned this amount of time, and during these months, we, as the viewer, see how his illness digresses. Which in turn makes him look worse and worse. Even when a blood transfusion is needed, he doesn't get better.
Deneuve is a world-renowned actress here and abroad. She can do anything when it comes to acting. Roles in Bel De Jour, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and The Hunger prove she can do it all. She has a difficult task in this film because she is not the main character, but she has to come across as sympathetic to what her son is going through. Deneuve has a lot of heavy lifting in this movie, even though it's not about her. She is the epitome of a concerned mother in this film.
Peaceful is an aptly named film. It has a quietness despite its subject matter. It is a very somber film with a sad score that accompanies it. The director uses kid gloves when she deals with this subject matter. We aren't far removed from a pandemic in which many people died. So if this is going to be done right, you have to be careful, and she is with every aspect of it.
Peaceful is now playing in theaters.