When her husband goes missing at the beach, a female professor begins to mentally disintegrate as her denial of his disappearance becomes delusional.When her husband goes missing at the beach, a female professor begins to mentally disintegrate as her denial of his disappearance becomes delusional.When her husband goes missing at the beach, a female professor begins to mentally disintegrate as her denial of his disappearance becomes delusional.
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.
- Feb 17, 2008