(The following is a reprint of my review written on 3.28.14)
First off, let me just say I wanted to love this movie. It had most of, if not all of the elements that I look for in a movie. A good story, rich script, and fascinating characters. It also felt really raw, and took me on an emotional rollercoaster, while also feeling very human in its treatment of its characters. Where it fell a bit flat was in the execution which didn’t really work that well for me. The structure of how it was told was in a flashback, fragmented, back and forth style, which I can honestly say I couldn’t quite understand why they choose to do it that way. I thought it would have been a lot more effective had it of just been told in a linear narrative. That aside, I was very engaged in the story of 2 lovers; one a tattoo artist and the other a Bluegrass musician, who meet, fall in love, and start a family; only to have their entire world swept out from underneath them. Other strong points were its bold, heartwrenching performances by the 2 main leads, a great Bluegrass score (this coming from someone who doesn’t even like Bluegrass music mind you), and the way in which it had the ability to reel the viewer into this deeply complex and emotional story. I geniunely felt strongly for these characters and when they felt happiness or pain, so did I. I also think it did a great job depicting how people manifest tragic life events. Similar to how they did in John Cameron Mitchell’s superb “Rabbit Hole” (2009). I felt myself thinking of both that and Derek Cianfrance’s equally superb “Blue Valentine” (2010) as reference points throughout. A really great story that will have you hooked from start to finish. If it weren’t for my feelings on the execution and the fact that it felt a bit too melodramatic at times, this would have been graded much higher because there really was so much it had going for it. Definitely worth seeking out, as there are a few people I can think of who liked it considerably more than even I did.
To Note: Nominated at this year’s Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film (Belgium)