Eternity (2016), Dir. Trần Anh Hùng

Eternity (2016), Dir. Trần Anh Hùng
I think I will be destroyed by the first death of a loved one.
— Gabrielle, Eternity (2016)

Stars: Audrey Tautou, Mélanie Laurent, Bérénice Bejo, Jérémie Renier, Pierre Deladonchamps, Arieh Worthalter, Irène Jacob, Valérie Stroh, Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, Tran Nu Yên-Khê (Narrator).
Director: Trần Anh Hùng
Screenplay: Trần Anh Hùng

It is easy to compare Eternity to a Malick film; the pace, the narration, lapse in linear storytelling. However this feels like a more grounded approach as it tells the story of history through the generations of family, but family from the mother, to the daughter, to the granddaughter. This is a story about the passing of life through the eyes of women which places the pain of familial love at the heart of this beautiful film.

We start with Valentine (Audrey Tautou) and her life, then with her husband and with their children. You see her wishes and dreams that she holds for her children and that burden of intense love that lays on her heart. Tautou is as always a thing of wonder as this film uses the minimal of dialogue it is through her body language, expressions and eyes that tell her story. The use of Narration (Tran Nu Yên-Khê) that is skilfully woven into the framing of the film passes on the knowledge of this family as we watch them live in their eternal summers.

The film then passes its torch to Valentine's daughter-in-law, Mathilde (Mélanie Laurent) and her husband Henri (Jérémie Renier) as the next generation continue the bloodline. Again we see their lives move as they have children and more children—the constant pregnant state of women that until recently was the norm. They live comfortably alongside their friends Gabrielle (Bérénice Bejo) and husband Charles (Pierre Deladonchamps) as they live and bring up their children together. 

This film deals with the loss of loved ones as until recently losing a child through illness was so common. These mothers have to struggle to find the light within those days of loss as they know a new child will certainly claim that empty space. This is a film about womanhood and how it is the women that continue the bloodline as they raise them and hope that they continue it to the next generation. It is also about the knowledge that women will always be mothers to an under two with another child in her belly. It is a continuous cycle of love and loss that keeps these women in eternal fear of the inevitable loss of her child; either through death or simply growing up and leaving.

This film is beyond words, it is a moving picture that captures the time while still feeling in the present. It allows empathy for the generations lost in time and to the women that will be only remembered by the ones that come after her in her family and that too is not forever; but her legacy is the eternal.

★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2