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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
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 »
Probably the best thing about director Francois Ozon's Sous le Sable (Under the Sand) is the re-emergence of sultry British actress Charlotte Rampling in the film's lead role. Having started out in the mid-60s, Rampling was beginning to appear in some rather offbeat, kinky films by the early 70s, such as the incestuous "Tis Pity She's a Whore" and the sado-masochistic "Night Porter." And though she's worked steadily since that time in various film and television roles, to my knowledge, Rampling hasn't had a lead role in a film for quite a few years. And it's good to see her in such fine form. She has always been a competent, attractive actress with an air of intrigue about her. So, here she is as Marie Drillon, a deluded widow who takes living in denial to new heights. Overwhelming evidence suggests that Marie's husband has drowned while swimming, yet she continues to speak of him as if he were alive and has conversations with him when he frequently appears in her apartment. It's a moderately interesting premise, though the pace of the film is a bit slow. As the story progresses, figuring out whether Mr. Drillon committed suicide or died accidentally becomes the focus of the plot. And for a while, it keeps you guessing by revealing small pieces of the puzzle. But the real matter at hand is Marie herself and the outcome of her delusional condition. She seems to make progress at times, especially when she starts dating a gentleman whom her best friend has recommended; yet she continues to struggle emotionally and psychologically.
Ultimately, one is most likely left with an uneasy feeling about poor Marie, and the film would have been more positive and probably stronger if her character could have fostered or conveyed a greater sense of growth. Even so, the film is above average, and Rampling turns in an excellent performance. And if nothing else, one is reminded that not all things in life can be neatly resolved or easily accepted; we choose either to grow, overcome the blows and take responsibility for the quality of our lives or we suffer the consequences.
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