Film

The Affecting Debut The Little Bedroom Examines Grief and Aging

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In their affecting debut film, set in Switzerland, co-writer-directors Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond take on grief and aging, two of life’s — and cinema’s — most challenging themes.

Months after the death of her unborn child, Rose (Florence Loiret Caille) returns to work as a home care nurse, and is immediately challenged by Edmond (Michel Bouquet), an increasingly frail old man who refuses to give up his independence.

Rose won’t speak of her loss, while Edmond is simply indomitable, and it’s their shared refusal to give in to careless emotion that draws the two together. Chuat and Reymond also share a desire to avoid melodrama, which makes The Little Bedroom an undeniably slow build. The screenplay is built of small moments and minute details that gradually gain significance, as should be the case in a good character study.

The process of changing a light bulb reveals the tension between Rose and her husband (Éric Caravaca), as well as the impossibility of knowing what to do with the dead child’s bedroom. A shared meal breaks the ice between Rose and Edmond, but a nurse eating with a patient is later used against them by petty social workers. Decades apart in age, Caille and Bouquet both exemplify artful restraint — deciphering their tiniest gesture is a deeply rewarding experience.