Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
What Was I Watching Before? Bryan Singer Says 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Is "The True Birth Of The X-Men" What Was I Watching Before? Bryan Singer Says 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Is "The True Birth Of The X-Men" Review & Recap: 'True Detective' Season 2, Episode 3 'Maybe Tomorrow' Review & Recap: 'True Detective' Season 2, Episode 3 'Maybe Tomorrow' Zack Snyder Defends 'Man Of Steel' Finale, Ben Affleck Reveals Bruce Wayne Knew People Who Died In That Battle Zack Snyder Defends 'Man Of Steel' Finale, Ben Affleck Reveals Bruce Wayne Knew People Who Died In That Battle New Book Contends Eric Stoltz Was “Difficult” & The Cast Wasn’t Shocked He Was Replaced On ‘Back To The Future’ New Book Contends Eric Stoltz Was “Difficult” & The Cast Wasn’t Shocked He Was Replaced On ‘Back To The Future’ Watch: Scott Lang Wants To Call The Avengers In New International 'Ant-Man' Trailer Watch: Scott Lang Wants To Call The Avengers In New International 'Ant-Man' Trailer Watch: Epic New Trailer For Werner Herzog's 'Queen Of The Desert' With Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, & More Watch: Epic New Trailer For Werner Herzog's 'Queen Of The Desert' With Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, & More The 20 Worst Films Of 2015 So Far The 20 Worst Films Of 2015 So Far Zack Snyder Reveals The Easter Egg Idea He Pitched Christopher Nolan And David Goyer For 'Man Of Steel' Zack Snyder Reveals The Easter Egg Idea He Pitched Christopher Nolan And David Goyer For 'Man Of Steel' New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet Mads Mikkelsen And Hugh Dancy Released From Their 'Hannibal' Contracts Mads Mikkelsen And Hugh Dancy Released From Their 'Hannibal' Contracts Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Watch: Michael Fassbender Plays ‘Steve Jobs’ In New Trailer For Oscar-Contender Co-Starring Kate Winslet & Seth Rogen Watch: Michael Fassbender Plays ‘Steve Jobs’ In New Trailer For Oscar-Contender Co-Starring Kate Winslet & Seth Rogen Tom Cruise Still Gearing Up For 'Top Gun 2,' Story Will Involve Drone Warfare Tom Cruise Still Gearing Up For 'Top Gun 2,' Story Will Involve Drone Warfare Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season

Review: Valeria Golino Takes A Nuanced Look At Death In Directorial Debut 'Miele'

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist March 4, 2014 at 7:08PM

If Michael Haneke's "Amour" presented death as a sobering inevitability, one that will test the bounds of our ability to love, actress Valeria Golino has a slightly more nuanced perspective in her directorial debut "Miele." While the subject of euthanasia is the entryway into the story, Golino wisely strays from turning her film into an Issues Movie, and instead opts to explore death both as a vessel for closure and a window into appreciating the life we have.
0
Miele

If Michael Haneke's "Amour" presented death as a sobering inevitability, one that will test the bounds of our ability to love, actress Valeria Golino has a slightly more nuanced perspective in her directorial debut "Miele." While the subject of euthanasia is the entryway into the story, Golino wisely strays from turning her film into an Issues Movie, and instead opts to explore death both as a vessel for closure and a window into appreciating the life we have.

Miele

The Noomi Rapace-esque Jasmine Trinca (all cropped hair, switchblade scowl and tomboy figure) leads the film as Irene, aka the titular Miele (meaning honey), her code name when she's on the job as an assisted suicide practitioner. Since assisted suicide is illegal in Italy, it requires almost Lisbeth Salander-ish levels of covert maneuvers. She travels to Mexico once a month and smuggles back veterinary grade barbiturates which she uses as part of her procedures, and she adheres to a rigorous set of rules to prevent detection, while maintaining a clear but distinct relationship between herself and her patients. 

Her guiding principle of only helping terminally ill patients is broken one day, when she's given the risky assignment to help Carlo (Carlo Cecchi), an elderly architect. While Miele has been present at all of her operations, leading her patients with great dignity and care through their final moments (while also giving them plenty of opportunity to change their mind), Carlo simply wants to buy the drugs and instructions on how to use them, while being left alone to decide his fate. When Irene learns after the transaction has been made that he's actually not ill, but simply "bored" with his life, she, desperately and unsuccessfully, tries to retrieve the drugs, and winds up forming an unlikely bond with the cantankerous Carlo.

Miele

But this isn't a meet-cute leading, where many filmmakers could have gone, to a heartwarming story of how one young girl melts an old man's heart. Instead, Carlo forces Irene to completely re-examine her own life, one that has left her unable to form any real connections. Her only close relationship is with Stefano (Vinicio Marchioni), a married man to whom she has lied about her life, with their trysts relegated to cars and trailers, out of sight of any watchful eyes. Her only family link is with her father, with whom she shares a cordial but not especially strong tie. In many ways, Carlo becomes her only real friendship, and he's certainly the only one with whom she can be wholly honest about what she does.

Golino directs with great care and doesn't shy away from what Miele does for work, nor does she judge it. Several sequences are dedicated to detailing every step of Miele's procedure, and if Golino leaves aside any moral or ethical discussions, it is to focus on the emotional and psychic toll it leaves behind. Trinca's performance is strong; as the story progresses, we subtly see how doubt begins to creep into her eyes and face. Nothing is particularly verbalized, but we eventually see Irene unable to be as clinically distant from patients as she once was. While she never questions helping the terminally ill find a way to leave this life on their own, her concern becomes whether or not she can further bear the burden of handling that responsibility.

Miele

Yet, for all the respect with which Golino handles her film and themes, "Miele" could use a few more notes within its narrative melody. Predictable isn't quite the right word, but the picture heads into expected places. The results are admirable, but one feels it's missing one more notch or gear to kick the material onto a slightly higher plane. However the slight missteps—including the distracting use of songs by The Shins, Thom Yorke and David Byrne—can be overlooked by how well Golino establishes her voice and a careful control of pitch and tone, particularly on her first feature outing behind the camera.

Death, and the right to choose to die, will always inspire fierce debate and "Miele" doesn't try to solve that argument. Instead, it quietly emphasizes that there can be a grace to passing away, no matter the circumstance. And for those left behind, the acceptance that we sometimes can't control when those close to us go is a lesson that can subtly inspire one to embrace what we have in front of us. [B]

This is a reprint of our review from the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

This article is related to: Reviews, Review, Miele, Valeria Golino


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates