When Tim Roth burst onto the scene in the early 1990s with a string of impressive performances he announced himself as one of the most exciting young British actors. Great roles in Robert Altman’s Vincent & Theo, Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover and Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead propelled him into the public consciousness. Since then, his career has stuttered in fits and starts and it’s probably roles in Quentin Tarantino films which have been his most iconic. Roth plays a carer, David, in Chronic and its his best performance in years.
David (Roth) quietly goes about his business working for a company as a nurse for terminally-ill clients. David is highly committed to his patients whilst seemingly never getting emotionally involved. At first the families are delighted by his care and attention for their dying relatives but they become increasingly concerned that they’re being slowly pushed out by his obsessional devotion.
Michel Franco’s film is an offbeat study of a distinctly troubled person who deals with his own trauma by devoting himself to others. David is an empath, but whilst his cool exterior is rarely even dinted there’s an inner turmoil which constantly bubbles underneath. Chronic is all about Tim Roth’s performance and he’s utterly and quietly captivating. Franco opts to allow facts about David’s personal life to slip out occasionally but the carer’s pain it etched upon his face during quieter moments.
Chronic is released on DVD by Curzon Artificial Eye today.