From the Land of the Moon spices up Alliance Francaise French Film Festival

Marion Cotillard in From the Land of the Moon.
Marion Cotillard in From the Land of the Moon.

BASED on the novel of the same name, From the Land of the Moon is another welcome showcase for the talents of actress Marion Cotillard that spices up this year’s Alliance Francaise French Film Festival.

Gabrielle (Cotillard) is a young 1950s French woman whose passion and free-spiritedness is frowned upon by her conservative community and family, particularly her mother who wants her married off.

She is set up with poor labourer Jose Rabascal (Alex Brendemuhl) in a marriage of convenience that neither is particularly happy about.

When Gabrielle is sent to a retreat in the Alps for medical treatment, she meets and falls in love with war veteran Andre (Louis Garrel), who was injured in the war.

Cotillard turns in another flawless performance of a complex, well-rounded character who is not always relatable or likeable but is always unapologetically herself.

Gabrielle’s exploration of her own sexuality, desires and search for love is something rarely analysed in film, and particularly in its depiction here as a borderline burning obsession.

The story, which arcs from drama to romance, is nicely captured by cinematographer Christophe Beaucarne, particularly when it shifts to the scenic Alps in the second half.

The M. Night Shyamalan-style twist in the end attempts to convey tragedy, yet it comes off gimmicky; a key reveal via a photograph is downright comical when the emotions should be hitting hard.

From the Land of the Moon screens as part of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival, which runs until April 5.THE ESSENTIALS

From the Land of the Moon (M)

Directed by: Nicole Garcia

Starring: Marion Cotillard, Louis Garrel, Alex Brendemühl

Four stars

Review by Julian Wright