Filmed three years ago but only released this October, Waiting For You is a whisper of a drama and feels long at an hour and a half. Directed by feature first timer Charles Garrad, the film is well cast, competently produced and nicely shot but comes across as far too slight to register in any meaningful or memorable way.
Colin Morgan – once Merlin, more recently of ‘Humans’ – leads Garrad’s strong cast with a beautiful, naturalistic performance, composed as much through mannerisms as dialogue. He plays Paul Ashton, a retail assistant who goes off in search of his family’s supposedly lost fortune after the death of his father Len (Sam Cox). In his last words to Paul, Len mumbles obliquely about his ruined life, a house and sack of pearls that, by right, belong to him. When it transpires that Len has left his wife (Clare Holman) and son with little financial support, Paul is driven on a quest to France in the search of a mysterious woman (Fanny Ardant’s Madeleine Brown), perhaps in the hope that she will lead him to untold fortune.
Though perfectly watchable, Garrad’s film struggles to ever come to life via a plot that cautiously intrigues rather than truly grips. Paul’s motivations are left oddly untouched, requiring a degree of guesswork from viewers, and peripheral to the extent that it proves all too easy to forget at times why it is that he has travelled to France in the first place. Once on the continent, Paul extends his stay by adopting a pseudonym but this comes across more as structural contrivance – in order to allow the film to hit feature length – than character necessity. It’s frustrating and leaves audiences waiting for something to happen, even when we suspect nothing will. When something does happen – there’s anti-war sentiment in the story – it’s a touch half-hearted.
Were the plot sharper and more involving here it would be easier to praise the impressive production work behind the scenes. Cinematographer David Raedeker casts the film beautifully and with the visual aesthetic of one with twice its budget. Southern France provides a welcome backdrop to the story, whilst the easy flow of Garrard and Hugh Stoddart’s dialogue often gifts the film a realist ambience. Often, it’s almost like watching an episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ – albeit not a particularly interesting one.
Tonally, however, Waiting For You is perhaps best likened to Roger Michell’s adaptation of Daphne du Maurier novel ‘My Cousin Rachel’. As in that film, an excellent cast haunt lovely surroundings. And yet, My Cousin Rachel had much more bite.