May 22, 2015 8:05 AM

Tim Roth deals with death, sadness in Cannes entry 'Chronic'

The Associated Press

CANNES, France (AP) Tim Roth toned things down for his role in the Cannes Film Festival entry "Chronic."

The British actor known for his explosive turns in films from "Made in Britain" to "Pulp Fiction" is tense and taciturn as a nurse who cares for the dying in the English-language debut of Mexican director Michel Franco.

Roth's character, David, is compassionate with his patients but deeply depressed in his own life, and the film adopts a deliberately subdued style. It lets the camera linger on the often-silent David as he washes, feeds and moves patients unable to care for themselves.

The film invites the audience to contemplate the toll caring for the dying takes on those who do it, and makes viewers consider their views on end-of-life suffering and assisted suicide.

Roth, who stars in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming film, "The Hateful Eight," said he wanted to make sure that his strong presence did not overwhelm the movie that Franco planned to make.

"It's a non-vanity film," Roth told reporters Friday in Cannes. "It's very much a leave-your-ego-at-the-door kind of portrayal ... I kind of stripped myself away as much as possible.

"It was very disturbing to play, I must say."

Roth's performance gained praise from journalists and marks him as a contender for Cannes' best-actor prize.

The actor said he was uncertain how to approach the role until he met and observed real respite-care nurses.

"I kind of gleaned the character from those meetings," he said.

Franco's film is one of the quieter entries at Cannes, where it is one of 19 films competing for the top Palme d'Or at Sunday's prize ceremony.

Roth said his own view on euthanasia had not changed.

"I'm all for it. ... That's crazy, to make people go through that (suffering)," he said.

The seed for "Chronic" was sown at Cannes in 2012, when Franco's "After Lucia" won the Un Certain Regard competition for new and emerging filmmakers. Roth was head of the Un Certain Regard jury that year.

"I saw his film and it devastated me," Roth said. "And then we met and I just asked him for a job."


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