Thursday, August 10, 2017

Marion Cotillard in 'Land of the Moon'

Marion Cotillard plays a woman longing for love and sex in From the Land of the Moon, a movie based on a 2006 novella by Milena Agus. Set mostly in Provence during the 1950s, the movie introduces three men into the life of Cotillard's Gabrielle. A high school teacher who loans Gabrielle a copy of Wuthering Heights becomes the first man on whom she has a crush. When that proves disastrous, Gabrielle's mother decides that her daughter ought to be married. Mom suggests that Gabrielle marry Jose (Alex Brendemuhl), a veteran of the Spanish Civil War who works on the family farm. Jose agrees even though Gabrielle has vowed never to love him -- and, at least in the beginning, never to have sex with him. The third unlucky chap is Andre Sauvage (Louis Garrel), a veteran of the Indochina war whom Gabrielle meets at a Swiss spa where she has been sent to recover from kidney stones, which the movie refers to -- presumably with metaphoric/psychological intent -- as "stones disease." Throughout, director Nicole Garcia offers suggestions that Gabrielle may be mad. Lush photography aside, everyone in From the Land of the Moon seems to be burdened by unfulfilled desires. Cotillard proves more than capable of playing a woman distracted and possessed by her own inner life. Cotillard dominates every image in which she appears (which is most of them), giving her character an air of troubled beauty; her performance is almost (but not quite) enough to carry From the Land of the Moon to success. A surprise late-picture twist fails to ring true and isn't all that surprising, anyway.

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