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Alain Wapler (Fabrice Luchini — Molière and The Women on the 6th Floor) is a C.E.O. at the top of his game, ambitious, extremely successful, and focused entirely on his work, with time enough to rest once he’s dead. Then a stroke nearly grants him that opportunity. The only real damage, after three days in a coma, appears to be to his speech, in unconscious selection of wrong words. But he will need significant success in speech therapy in order to retain his job.
Illustrating a little-recognised outcome of a common medical condition — and its importance to our social and professional status — Alain’s journey to recovery reveals the strengths and weaknesses of his relationships, and challenges him to develop aspects of himself that he has long neglected. It’s a journey with many moments of laughter and many of surprising realisation. It highlights the limitations that a stroke can impose, but also the kindness and tolerance, or ambitious avarice, that misfortune invokes in others.
Cinematography highlights the film’s settings, the plebeian life, the perks of status, and some glorious European landscapes. Carried by a great cast and pacing that keeps viewers engaged throughout, the film reaches a resolution — and a measure of the man — that is satisfying and optimistic. Along the way, it offers a range of amusements as we find ourselves siding with somebody whose journey to his humanity is understated and convincing.
JOHN P. HARVEY and MICHELE E. HAWKINS