In L’Attesa (The Wait), Juliette Binoche plays Anna, a mother in mourning who receives an unexpected guest; Jeanne (Lou de Laâge), Anna’s son’s girlfriend, arrives for the Easter holiday and hasn’t heard the news. She enters the darkened Sicilian villa; mirrors are covered and everybody’s in black. She’s clearly confused and concerned, but she’s told that Anna’s brother has died.
Why the lie? Anna stubbornly keeps up the ruse in a desperate attempt to pretend that it isn’t true. As she assures Jeanne that her son will arrive soon, she can put off the horrifying days the lie ahead, the worst nightmare for any mother. Binoche, though a French actress playing a woman born in France, is, here, a Sicilian Mamma to the core, and her stoic intensity pairs with the film’s, at times, dizzyingly strung-out tone.