Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
France/Belgium, 2015. Les Films du Worso, LGM Productions, Scope Pictures, France 3 Cinema, DD Productions, Cinéfeel Prod, Cinémage 9, Soficinéma 11, Cofinova 11, Palatine Étoile 12, Canal+, France Televisions, Le Pacte, Centre National De La Cinematographie, Le Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Federal de Belgique, SCOPE Invest, NU Films. Screenplay by Guillaume Nicloux, translation by David H. Pickering. Cinematography by Christophe Offenstein. Produced by Cyril Colbeau-Justin, Jean-Baptiste Dupont, Sylvie Pialat, Benoit Quainon. Film Editing by Guy Lecorne. Cannes Film Festival 2015.
A divorced couple meet in Death Valley after the recent suicide of their son, having been instructed to go there by letters delivered to them after his passing. The divorcees are both famous actors who have moved on with their lives, she (Isabelle Huppert) remarried with other children and he (Gerard Depardieu) dealing with his physical decline and increasing disillusionment. Having been apart for years, these two are now out of their country, stuck in the intense heat of their location and at their wit’s end in dealing with the grief of losing their child. Each day brings them new instructions to visit a different tourist destination (as outlined in the letter) and every day brings them closer to each other and to the madness that split them apart in the first place. Beautifully shot and intelligently written, this film has all its elements in place and yet somehow never manages to be very moving. It seems more an opportunity for the director to give great roles to two actors he loves (who are admittedly very good), but the mysterious atmosphere of their environment and the poignancy of their situation doesn’t successfully sustain the film’s plot throughout, and ripe symbolism (or fantasy, whatever you prefer) thrown into the conclusion provides little salvation. That said, it has its moments, and the oppressive heat really does read successfully on film.