Waiting For You is a passive title for a passive sort of film. NI actor Colin Morgan (the titular warlock in BBC’s weekend fantasy Merlin) makes his feature lead debut as a grieving lad investigating his late father’s secrets in the first film from Charles Garrad, production designer turned director. Garrad’s design background is obvious in the sunny chateaux aesthetics, but more than anything Waiting gives the impression of a film built mood-first, with a screenplay from Garrad and Hugh Stoddart that’s much too fuzzy around the edges.
Paul (Morgan) is an architecture uni dropout working in a book store and living with his mum and dad, the latter in the last days of terminal illness. On his deathbed, his father opens up to Paul about something terrible that happened during his time in the service, something involving his Captain, and hints mysteriously at a stash of pearls. The bereavement has left the family in a precarious financial situation and Paul can’t shake his father’s last talk to him, but his dad’s old army buds are keeping tight-lipped. He stumbles on a photograph of his father and an unidentified woman in what looks like a French town, and hops on a Eurostar to find out more. Eventually he locates the house in question, blagging his way in as an architecture grad student looking to survey the house for a project. The frosty Madame in residence and daughter of the Colonel referenced by Paul’s father, Madeleine Brown (Fanny Ardant), puts him up for the week, but keeps him under her suspicious eye. When he gets a chance he’s rummaging through her things to find answers to his father’s wartime French experience, or making eyes at Sylvia (Audrey Bastien), the girl who works in the cafe down the road.
Much of the film coasts on a genteel, white wine in the afternoon atmosphere, which is pleasing enough to look at but jars with Paul’s supposed emotional urgency. Morgan does a satisfactory job, and he has a doe-eyed look that suits the naive, unsure young man, but the longer the film goes on, the less carefully it handles his motivations and reactions. A languidness deflates the tension of the mystery: scenes of Paul creeping around the house, grabbing old photos and playing detective keep up the mild intrigue, but the script is vague on what exactly he is finding, and what kind of closure he’s trying to get out of the whole thing. Ardent’s Madeleine is a melancholic, vaguely sexy French archetype, but doesn’t have much do besides smoke her cigarette, sit on the terrace and cast waspy glances at her lodger.
Plot strands make an appearance but are treated obliquely, like a half-brother mentioned briefly at the beginning, or evidence of possible war crimes committed by Paul’s father. Paul’s eventual epiphany about the location of whatever it is he is looking for is prompted very casually, and in the finale he is offered something that will resolve his family’s money issues but turns it down for reasons that may have sounded good on the page, but don’t chime with the whole reason he came in the first place. Viewers seeking a satisfying resolution will be left waiting. Conor Smyth
Waiting For You does not yet have a UK release date.