The second entry in what seems like an unofficial recent triptych about twilight years, Geoffrey Enthoven’s The Only One—as with last year’s Venus and Sarah Polley’s upcoming Away From Her—concerns itself with the trials and tribulations of growing old. In this tender but occasionally clunky Belgian import, the aged person in question is Lucien (Nand Buyl), a widower in his 80s whose independence is threatened by a daughter, Gerda (Misée Wyns), who wants to ship him off to a retirement home, a move that would require him to both sell his house and, consequently, forever relinquish his freedom. After his loving granddaughter relocates to Paris for college, Lucien moves out of Gerda’s place (much to her anxious chagrin) and back into his own residence, where he’s tended to by jealous girlfriend Mathilde (Viviane de Muynck), the wife of his best friend Felix (Leo Achten), and eventually finds a new, intimate friendship with younger neighbor Sylvia (Marijke Pinoy). Enthoven and co-screenwriter Jaak Boon regard Lucien’s struggles to achieve self-sufficiency and maintain personal dignity with sympathy and respect, though they’re prone to indulge in cheesy English pop songs or redundant, overly cute peripheral bits such as one in which Lucien writes furious letters to the newspaper about society’s unkind treatment of senior citizens. Its ultimate argument that putting old folks in retirement facilities is a selfish decision made by the young proves far too indiscriminate to be convincing, but as in Venus, The Only One recognizes the routine condescension suffered by the elderly, as well as the still-vital sexuality they possess. Lucien’s various romantic ups and downs aren’t always believable and can be a tad contrived, as in the case of his burgeoning relationship with Sylvia, whose ailing husband resides in a rest home. Yet Buyl’s engagingly grouchy, defiant performance nonetheless renders Lucien’s emotional and carnal desires credible, in the process persuasively establishing that one is never too old to drunkenly crave French fries, or to be irresistibly enticed by cleavage.
- 88 min
- Geoffrey Enthoven
- Geoffrey Enthoven, Jaak Boon
- Nand Buyl, Marijke Pinoy, Viviane de Muynck, Misée Wyns, Leo Achten
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: