This is neither a detective story, nor an 'unmasking drama' à la Ibsen. Hence, you will miss little, and may actually gain something, if you know in advance how the movie will end, and what is the underlying background of the events. Not until closely before the end will the grievous dilemma be revealed. The husband of the seriously mentally ill middle-aged Icelandic woman (Loa) is a latent alcoholic. Whenever Loa leaves him, he submits to his addiction. And whatever additional feelings Loa may have for her husband, one set may best be compared with those of a mother for her child. When she is at home, she is living a (rather?) normal life, going to her monotonous job and performing well, taking care of her children etc. I said a 'rather' normal life. We will see her taking her husband's head in her hands with real love. But there is no scene in which she TALKS a single word to him. - - - Sometimes Loa cannot stand this state of things any longer, and just runs away. During one such tour she was eventually found in England and send back to the small volcanic island, distant from the capital. During the tour connected with the present movie, she ended up in a mental hospital in France, without identification papers and apparently being mute. With one exception, no member of the staff got the idea that Loa might not be French. - - - There is a wealth of movies about a single idealistic psychiatrist fighting against the prejudices of all colleagues. I am no clinician, but I am a professional expert as regards the theories of the field. Most movies of this variety consist of unethical propaganda. Usually, the theories and approaches of the 'idealist' are conclusively known to be harmful to patients. It is an admirable fact that in 'Stormy Weather' no psychiatric theory is presented, discussed, praised, or attacked. The young female psychiatrist (Cora) is simply a genuine idealist. Since the first task is to establish rapport with Loa, some of the patient's 'whims' must be accepted. For instance, Loa likes to go up and down in the lift. Quite a few persons are needed for drawing her out of the lift at the hospital. But Cora takes her out in the town, finds a glass lift on the outside of a really high building. And while they go up and down Cora talks incessantly. This is not the only example of unorthodox procedures. - - - Unfortunately, Cora's suggestion that the patient might not be French made the chief doctor engage Interpol. Loa was soon identified, and during Cora's day off she was sent back to Iceland. However, now follows the extraordinary idealism of the young psychiatrist. She immediately flies to Iceland. The local inhabitants take for granted that Cora is a tourist wanting to see the volcano which recently had an eruption. There is even a scene when Cora eats dinner with Loa's family. The husband explains everything that a tourist might want to know about the volcano. Wisely, Cora and Loa give no indication of knowing each other, until they are alone. Loa is prepared to follow Cora back to the French hospital. Unfortunately, the local doctor happens to see them on their way to the boat. He knows nothing of psychiatry. There is only one psychiatric hospital in the entire country, and only extreme cases are sent thither. The local doctor prevents what he perceives as 'criminal kidnapping'. Hence, Cora's attempt ended as a complete failure. - Cora is excellently played by Élodie Bouchez, and this may well be her best performance so far. - - - You will need empathy for being able to appreciate this sad story. To some people, such deadlocked situations constitute a part of the reality they must face. - Apart from other merits 'Stormy Weather' also proves that the set of topics upon which films may be made is far from exhausted. There is still room for unexpected innovations.
Stormy Weather (2003)
User ReviewsReview this title
17 September 2003
saw this film at the toronto int film fest. it was a little on the slow side but i find it is staying with me much more than many of the other films i saw. the potrayal of iceland shows a locale that is bleakly beautiful, forbidding and lonesome. i was especially taken with the performance of elodie bouchez. her portrayal was controlled but intense - i was drawn in and did not want to take my eyes off her. worth a look.
16 January 2004
Very well acted by Elodie Bouchez and particularly by Didda Jonsdottir, Stormy Weather shows a course of psychiatric treatment that fails when the psychiatrist falls into a variety of the mutism of her patient. They achieve emotional rapport, but it's not clear how treatment would have proceeded, since the doctor (or intern?) was using French to address the silent patient, while it appears, after the patient has been transported back to Iceland, that English is the most common second language there. Was the illustrated nasty weather and volcanism of Iceland the cause of the patient's condition? Let's hope not. Could the doctor have left some therapeutic hints with the woman's husband and the local general M.D.? She might have, but she's becoming a patient herself.
Quietly disturbing psychological character study
14 January 2011Warning: Spoilers
Sad, and very well acted. A young French institutional psychiatrist gets wrapped up in the life of a patient – a mute middle age woman, who seems to have no identity. One day the woman disappears, and the doctor follows her to a small island off Iceland, where it turns out she has a husband, a child, and even a job. They know she's disturbed, but they just deal with it as part of the way things are. This pushes the psychiatrist to ever more obsessive behavior, as she tries to get the woman back to France to continue treatment. The first third – the woman's treatment in France, and the growing doctor/patient relationship is the strongest part of the film – mysterious and touching. On Iceland, things feel a touch more predictable, and the young doctor's near madness seems a bit of a stretch. But the culture clash is still fascinating. A film I'm glad I saw, even if flawed.
12 November 2003
I've seen many films like this. Nothing happens, just 80 minutes suffering. Oooh, can you feel the pain of the main character? Oh, yes, but I really don't care. The director couldn't wake up my solidarity. If you want to see this movie, then just for the nice Icelandic landscapes. They are really great, i have to admit