From the Land of the Moon | Mal de Pierres (2016)
Director: Nicole Garcia Writers: Nicole Garcia, Jacques Fieschi, based on a novel by Milena Agus
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Louis Garrel, Alex Brendemuhl, Brigitte Rouan, Victoire Du Bois, Aloise Sauvage, Daniel Para, Jihwan Kim, Victor Quilichini
Marion Cotillard is back with another intense character study that haunts this otrtured love story. In actor turned filmmaker Nicole Garcia’s eighth film FROM THE LAND OF THE MOON she plays Gabrielle a woman from a bourgeois background who is desperate to find fulfilment in romantic love. Based on a best seller by Italian writer Milena Agus, the story opens in 1950s France where Gabrielle is driving her family to distraction with her violent and quixotic temperament. Fortunately beauty and money are on her side in an era where arranged marriages were still commonplace, so her mother organises a match with a penniless but decent Spanish builder, Jose (Alex Brendemuhl from Wakolda), who knuckles down to taking Gabrielle respectably off their hands and making an honest Catholic woman of her. From the outset, Gabrielle makes it clear that she will not be having sex with Jose and he takes this calmly knowing full well that his bedroom skills could potentially change her mind on the subject.
And Jose’s straightforward, kind and stable nature soon calms Gabrielle’s flighty temperament and emerges as one of the more sympathetic characters in the film and a counterpoint to Gabrielle’s selfish and wayward character. Garcia and Jacques Fieschi’s script also emphasises Gabrielle’s desperate need of sexual fulfilment as we seen her standing in the cool river on a hot day trying to achieve the same sexual relief as men did during the war with the use of bromide. Obviously this is a sotry that will draw comparisons with Madame Bovary, although Gabrielle is not constrained by her social, moral or religious scruples and her husband is kind and supportive. After a miscarriage, Jose sends her off to an expensive Swiss clinic for treatment and once again her febrile sexual imagination gets the better of her. Here she meet Louis Garrel as the dashing lieutenant Andre Sauvage and is immediately smitten, especially as his keyboard skills playing Tchaikovsky are to become a leitmotif for the piece in the whimsical closing scenes.
Cotillard’s is the driving force behind this visually ravishing drama. She illuminates every scene with her serene beauty and elegance instilling calm and grace despite her brooding unhappiness which morphs into euphoria when she meets Sauvage. As Gabrielle, she struggles to find contentment upsetting everyone else into the bargain with her toxic personality and meanness. This is a fabulously crafted classic drama that is both absorbing and intensely enjoyable. MT
IN CINEMAS FROM 8 JUNE 2017