From The Land of the Moon (Mal de Pierres) (2016)

NICOLE GARCIA

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB//, 2016, , , , , , , , , , , , , , Screenplay, adaptation and dialogue by and , collaboration with , based on the novel by Cinematography by Produced by Music by Production Design by Costume Design by Film Editing by Cannes Film Festival 2016.

Marion Cotillard in From The Land of the Moon

The daughter of a well-to-do farming family is inviting ridicule from her community with her erratic behavior and, specifically, her obsession with a married schoolteacher. Determined to keep her respectable, the girl’s mother decides to set her up in marriage with the best prospect within earshot: the farm has employed a group of Catalans on the run from Franco’s regime, and the most promising of them is asked to marry our taciturn heroine in exchange for being set up in business.  He (played by ) agrees but she (played by Marion Cotillard) refuses, at least at first, but then eventually acquiesces and they move away to live in their new home as husband and wife.  Their new life is quickly interrupted by her old affliction of back spasms coming back, which a doctor tells her is kidney stones and that she must immediately be sent to a fancy Swiss sanitorium to recover. There, she meets a handsome soldier returned from the Indochina wars () and experiences her first real passion; Garrel’s vulnerability touches her and she begins to understand love as something more than just an opportunity for her to receive but also to give. Despite a lush romantic plot and the casting of the always bewitching Cotillard in the lead, there’s no getting around the fact that this movie, adapted from the novella by Milena Agus, is hopelessly dreary.  The main character isn’t a rebel who is hiding a passionate heart or a curious mind beneath her thorny behavior, she’s actually just rude, and being forced to see her through illness and heartbreak is more than what should be asked of a paying audience. Cotillard and Garrel have great chemistry, but the Beautiful Mind reveal at the end is an unnecessary extra layer on a story that is already providing so few rewards.

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