Rating (4 out of 5)
Warning: This is a foreign film, so reading will be required through all of the movie.
This story at its core is about fate and love. The story follows Valentine, a young model. Her boyfriend travels and is away, and their relationship is struggling. Across the way lives a young law student, who is a parallel for the old man, the Judge. The law student is usually seen behind the scenes, and has very little interaction on screen. Valentine one day runs over a dog in her car, she takes car of the dog, and tries to return the dog to his owner the Judge, which is how they meet.
The Judge listens in to his neighbors phone calls using radio equipment. The Judge and Valentine become friends as they learn about each other from their discussions. They both grow and learn from these discussions, as they challenge each other on their lives.
What I Liked: I was drawn to the Judge, and his listening in on the neighbors and the exploration of what is right and wrong. Is it right to tell someone information that will just be painful? He also listens in to the woman who is dating a law student. The law student and woman become a parallel for the Judge’s earlier life.
As I think about this in retrospect, I really liked the little bits of fate that collided people together; hitting the dog, the passage from a law book, the storm, etc.. The Judge and law student could have had the same life, except for just a few events. The Judge describe a dream he had about Valentine, and at first I thought it was creepy, but now I see it as a the parallel to the law student.
For those more traditional people movie watchers, seeing the Judge grow from grump eaves dropping creepy old man, then find direction and admitting his crime and telling Valentine his history to watching Valentine’s show. For me, growth in characters is an important attribute, and I enjoyed the Judge’s arc. Valentine also grows in her discussions with the Judge, and let’s go of her burdens to pursue love.
The final parallel that I enjoyed was the ending of the movie, when the picture that she modeled for, and then the final picture of the movie, were one in the same. That plus seeing all the characters from the previous movies made for a nice ending.
What I Didn’t Like: The pace felt slow at times, but again it was to setup the connections. Valentine is a little naive at first, so she can be a bit annoying.
While this is a great move the slower pace was a bit hard for me to give it a perfect score. As I wrote this article I noticed pieces that I liked that I didn’t notice the immediately after watching the film, so for those people who are slower on the update like me, you may need a day or two to appreciate the nuances of this film.,