From the Land of the Moon
- Nikki Baughan
- 5 June 2017
Even Marion Cotillard can't enliven this tiresome French melodrama from Nicole Garcia
An old-fashioned French melodrama with a nonsensical English title (the original, Mal de pierres, translates to the far more entertaining 'evil stones' ), even the captivating presence of Marion Cotillard can't save From the Land of the Moon from succumbing to embarrassing histrionics.
Cotillard is Gabrielle, a young woman living in 1950s rural France, whose overwhelming sexual desires and unwillingness to conform cause her parents much consternation. So they marry her off to Spanish farmhand José (Àlex Brendemühl) with whom she endures a passionless relationship. When Gabrielle is diagnosed with kidney stones, she visits a mountain spa where she sparks a connection with dashing fellow patient André (Louis Garrel) that will leave its mark on the rest of her life.
Cotillard et al try their best, but have absolutely nothing of substance to work with. Just as Gabrielle is defined only by her breathless pursuit of passion, the one-dimensional screenplay from director Nicole Garcia and Jacques Fieschi – inspired by Milena Agus' novel – does a similar disservice to her paramours. José is a rough-hewn caricature of stoic masculinity, who visits prostitutes instead of attempting to connect with his wife, while the terminally ill André becomes an impossible dream boy of sexy, sickly sensitivity.
And for a film that is supposedly about one woman's singular determination to pursue her desires, and despite its surprisingly full-frontal opening, it is a neutered and coy affair. While the decision to focus on tear-filled eyes, trembling lips and lustful looks may seem to speak to the social constraints of the day, that this hackneyed narrative is making any real social observations is debunked by a ludicrous final-act twist.
Not only does this ridiculous reveal completely undermine Gabrielle's journey, but it turns the film into a reductive psychodrama about women being overwhelmed, instead of empowered, by their sexuality. It's an outdated and tiresome concept, even within the framework of a period drama.
Limited release from Fri 9 Jun.