The Dardenne brothers' masterpiece is a story of guilt, recrimination and a search for forgiveness. The tension in the story comes because the main character is acting in ways he himself isn't really sure of, at times almost experimenting with the emotions and actions that will help him heal.
An advocacy documentary of the highest order, and hugely influential on the muckraking documentaries of the present day. What's different here though is that, while the filmmakers juxtapose the words of someone with contradictory actions, they don't do it with solely a mean-spirited gotcha. Rather, the filmmakers are so invested in the humanity and morality of the topics they explore that they present the contradictions to underline the hypocrisy of the intentions given and to make us feel and think about those intentions.
Very simple set-up: ballet company prepares for and then rehearses short story. But somehow Saura's essentially two part tale is fascinating, in the first part for its detail and patience, in the second part for its evocation of strong emotions even though it's heightened the unreality of the performance.
Blunt but effective psychological suspense piece--where that suspense is generated through whether the Ryan character will be able to find a way to live with the live he's chosen. This is one of Ryan's better performances.