A fabulous, almost dialogue-free, opening section with some stunning visuals sets up one side of the story, and we only meet the protagonists of the other side much later, when their story is told separately. Obviously, the two threads are intertwined by the end, but I don’t wish to give too much away so I’ll say no more.
There is much to admire in the handling of the story which could have been melodramatic and hand-wringing but which I felt dealt delicately and realistically with the situation in the first part. The second part was slightly less successful in avoiding the syrup, but it was manageable, largely due to the tiny glimpses of ordinariness in such an extraordinary situation.
Stand-out performance for me was definitely Tahar Rahim, whose character we see in a most difficult situation, and which Rahim executes to perfection.
It has a feel of a short story extended by an excess of medical exposition and practise (I did have to look away at one point; it all got a bit Holby City) but it worked for me on both an artistic and philosophical level.
[Don’t watch the trailer if you don’t want to know more about the set up than I’ve mentioned!]