Many recent films have been shot in black and white: “Nebraska”, “The Artist”, “The White Ribbon” and “Ida”. This film, like those, is beautifully shot and the cinematography is one of the best things about it.
Chorus follows a couple, who separated ten years earlier after their only child disappeared. Iréne took refuge from her pain by singing in the chorus of the title and Christophe took his in the oceans of Mexico. They are brought back together when the body of their son is found.
The film moves very slow and has many shots of the mundane things of their lives. The story line jumps around some and it is never quite clear what is real and what is a fantasy or dream. Also, there is a voice-over that is a bit distracting, but really helps to gets across some essence of the character we have missed.
The screenplay should be commended for its minimal use of dialogue. There are many scenes that get across everything without saying a word. There are several scenes where Iréne sings with the chorus. Music is another great thing about the film. These scenes are wonderful to listen to, but don’t move the story forward. Also, we never get the feeling that Iréne is joyous about her singing. It seems like a job to her. Perhaps the fact that she seems to be lip syncing to the music didn’t help.
In the Q & A after the film, actress Fanny Mallette, who plays Iréne, said the days working with the great Genevieve Bujold, who plays her mother, were much more emotional and powerful for her. As a viewer I have to agree, those are some of the best scenes in the film. Much of the rest of the film didn’t have that same sort of emotionality to it.
I ended up not caring about what happens to these characters and that is a sure sign that I was not drawn into their world and never developed empathy for them. Overall the film is beautiful in sight and sound and tries to get across the theme of loss, but was missing something to draw me in, plus it moved too slow to keep my interest.