The Missing Half

Director: Benoît Mariage
Screenwriters: Beno”t Mariage

Institute History

  • 2004 Sundance Film Festival


In the beginning, everything is perfectly symmetrical. Claire and Pierre are expecting twins. They buy a double stroller. Pierre, an optometrist, peers through the two lenses of his glasses at his patients' two eyes. But soon Claire experiences a panic that one embryo is crushing the other. The couple resolves to abort half the pregnancy. Now a cleavage develops; things fall out of balance. To Claire's irritation, Pierre compensates for the loss by inviting his half-blind patient for a picnic. Ironically, this angelic, socially lopsided young man catalyzes Claire's heart to open and thaws her fears.

The Missing Half is a spare meditation on what wedges us apart and what makes us whole. This masterfully laconic and gentle drama allows images, montage, and interaction to swell with symbolic meaning. Benoît Mariage, who brought us the offbeat comedy, The Carriers Are Waiting, elicits stunningly precise performances from his actors, who seem to speak a secret language with each other as they share pregnant silences. Mariage casts the misty Belgian countryside as the metaphoric backdrop for their separate existential journeys. He applies an elegant economy to every aspect of this layered, subtle, and profound film.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details

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