Later she falls ill and Arthur becomes the repentant husband. We know exactly about his inner turmoil because of handy Takumi, who perhaps is reconsidering his wish to renounce suicide after a few hours in Arthur's company, as Arthur spiels endlessly and McConaughey insists too much on his actorly chops with copious scenes of him weeping as he admits something else that he thinks is terrible but the viewer might conclude is the ho-hum reality of a so-so marriage. As if this twaddle wasn't bad enough, add a chunk of Hereafter-like spiritual warbling from Takumi. At this point one ceases to be bored and began to get angry, as Takumi spells out his oriental new ageism in a way that is bound to be narratively pertinent at a later date.
As Chekov put it, if you have a flower connected to souls growing in act one, it has to be fired by act three. Takumi doesn't have it all his own way though. Arthur the Westerner is – obviously – a scientist. "So Science has all the answers?" "Yes, it does!" goes one such exchange. The film looks good, and Van Sant has obviously spent some time creating visually inventive shots, but the script is all over the place. As well as the sentimental melodrama and the hokey philosophy, there's also half of a survival film with the two men almost comically unable to leave the forest and having to confront flash floods rock slides and the fact they were both halfway through inept suicide attempts. Although it should be no surprise that Arthur decides against ending it all, the audience might feel that the whole thing could have been put out of its misery at the script stage.
The 68th Cannes Film Festival takes place from 13-24 May 2015. For more Cannes coverage, simply follow this link.
John Bleasdale | @drjonty