Under the Sand (2000)
"Sous le sable" (original title)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, Mystery  |  4 May 2001 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 6,623 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 66 user | 79 critic | 24 from Metacritic.com

When her husband goes missing at the beach, a female professor begins to mentally disintegrate as her denial of his disappearance becomes delusional.



(scenario and dialogue), (collaboration), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruno Cremer ...
Jean Drillon
Alexandra Stewart ...
Pierre Vernier ...
Andrée Tainsy ...
Maya Gaugler ...
German woman
Damien Abbou ...
Chief lifeguard
David Portugais ...
Young lifeguard
Pierre Soubestre ...
Agathe Teyssier ...
In charge of luxury store
Laurence Martin ...
Apartment seller
Jean-François Lapalus ...
Paris doctor
Laurence Mercier ...
Paris doctor's secretary
Fabienne Luchetti ...


Marie, a professor of English literature in a Paris university, has been happily married to Jean for 25 years, although they have no children. During their summer vacations in the southwest of France, Jean leaves Marie sunbathing on the beach and goes to swim in the sea. When Marie turns back, she cannot find Jean. Has he left her? commited suicide? drowned? With no clue and no body to mourn over, Marie acts as her husband was still alive. Written by Loic Henry-Greard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Can love vanish without a trace?


Drama | Mystery


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

4 May 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Under the Sand  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$32,657 (USA) (4 May 2001)


$1,450,106 (USA) (8 March 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


For financial reasons, the movie was shut down for 6 months, which worked for the best for François Ozon because then he actually shot on the summer and the winter, like the movie differentiates. See more »


Marie Drillon: I am his wife, and I'm telling you, this is *not* him!
See more »


Referenced in Searching for Debra Winger (2002) See more »


Performed by Philippe Rombi
Composed by Philippe Rombi
© (p) 2000 Fidélité Productions
See more »

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User Reviews

Scratch the Surface
17 February 2008 | by (Brugge, Belgium) – See all my reviews

A surprising change of pace for (up to that stage in his directorial career) shock auteur François Ozon in the wake of bourgeois facade-ripping as REGARDE LA MER and SITCOM, this minimalist masterpiece deals with love, loss and grief yet never becomes heavy-handed.

Middle-aged Marie (luminous Charlotte Rampling making a belated but extremely welcome return to leading roles), an English literature professor at a Parisian university, quite literally loses her husband (hauntingly sad-eyed Bruno Cremer) while on seaside holiday. She takes a nap on the beach as he's out swimming. When she wakes up, he has disappeared. Accidentally or voluntarily drowned ? Hiding perhaps from a stifling marriage ? Ozon offers no solid answers but focuses but focuses on Marie's stubborn denial of her husband's departure as she resumes her professional and social life as if nothing had happened. While those around her assume she's slipping from sanity, the truth proves considerably less tangible and far more nuanced. A tentative affair with the friend of a friend seems doomed from the start, leading to the shattering final scene, all the more heartbreaking for being open to any number of interpretations, none of them particularly cheerful.

Even though the filmmaker has reigned in his wicked humor and morality-defying shock tactics, this fortunately doesn't mean he has gone all solemn on us. The general lightness of tone might indeed startle in light of the subject matter, plus there's even an astonishingly erotic moment when Marie imagines herself being groped by both husband and lover in an elegant masturbatory fantasy. Ultimately, this is very much Rampling's show and clearly intended as such. Rarely out of frame for more than an instant here, she delivers the type of performance – both subtle and sensuous – that has been her stock in trade since she started enchanting movie audiences worldwide back in the '60s, her mysterious beauty undiminished (if anything, augmented more like) by the passing years. Contrary to her personal code of conduct (she will rarely work more than once with the same director, always looking for new experiences to further her craft and personal growth), she went on to star in Ozon's deceptively upbeat SWIMMING POOL and took a supporting role in his first failure to date, the atrocious ANGEL.

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