From The Land Of The Moon

****

Reviewed by: Anne-Katrin Titze

From The Land Of The Moon
"Cotillard's face oscillates mysteriously between the past depicted on the screen and a woman of the present who tries to understand."

There is a long history of diagnosing women as sick, whose desires and behaviors don't match the norms of the day. In Nicole Garcia's From the Land of the Moon (Mal de pierres), based on the novel by Milena Agus, Gabrielle (Marion Cotillard) lives with her parents and sister in the post-war French countryside. Unrequited love for a married teacher spins out of control. He gives her Wuthering Heights to read. He has a very pregnant wife. Gabrielle reacts in ways that have her family concerned.

She is married off to one of the Catalan guest workers, there to help harvest lavender. José, played by Alex Brendemühl who can also be seen as a Nazi Colonel in this year's New York Rendez-Vous with French Cinema Opening Night selection, Étienne Comar’s Django, resembles an August Sander photograph at times. He is as good as Cotillard in keeping us guessing what this mis-matched couple is really thinking. Both performances are outstanding - they master the knotty dynamics of rejection and long-term desire.

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The dynamics work well precisely because we are not in on it, rather left out just as much as they are from each other. Turns out, we, the spectators, are not the only third party. After Gabrielle is diagnosed with Stone Sickness, she is sent to a clinic in Switzerland for a cure.

This is where she meets Indochina veteran André Sauvage (Louis Garrel, excellent at physical suffering). This Magic Mountain encounter changes everything, while staying true to what we already know about Gabrielle's force of imagination. What exactly does it mean when we say someone is lovesick? Garcia carefully chisels out something about women growing up in the 1950s, claiming themselves. Cotillard's face oscillates mysteriously between the past depicted on the screen and a woman of the present who tries to understand.

While she takes the water and falls for the alluring stranger in pain, her bricklayer husband builds her a pink house by the sea. The choice isn't hers to make.

From The Land Of The Moon (Mal de pierres) has captured eight César nominations - Best Film, Best Director, Marion Cotillard for Best Actress, Adapted Screenplay Nicole Garcia, Jacques Fieschi, Best Costumes Catherine Leterrier, Cinematography Christophe Beaucarne, Best Editing Simon Jacquet, and Best Sound Jean-Pierre Duret, Sylvain Malbrant, Jean-Pierre Laforce. The César awards will be handed out this Friday, February 24 in Paris.

Reviewed on: 23 Feb 2017
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From The Land Of The Moon packshot
Twenty-year story of the loves of a passionate, free-spirited woman.

Director: Nicole Garcia

Writer: Nicole Garcia and Jacques Fieschi, based on the book by Milena Agus

Starring: Marion Cotillard, Louis Garrel, Àlex Brendemühl, Brigitte Roüan, Gwendoline Fiquet, Victoire Du Bois, Aloïse Sauvage, Inès Grunenwald, Victor Quilichini, Caroline Megglé

Year: 2016

Runtime: 120 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France, Belgium


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