French Language drama starring Marion Cotillard. A Young French Woman with deep psychological problems enters into a marriage to escape her Mother. We follow her from an unrequited love with a school teacher to her marriage to Jose, whom although she does not love completely, she remains married to. When the Stones Sickness starts to hurt her chances of having children she goes to a clinic in the Alps to get better. There she falls for a solider who was injured and is now recovering. This affair will change her forever.
Leaving the screening of this film, as with every film, we reviewers gather and sharpen our knives, for the most part we talk about the film that we’ve just seen. We try to chat about the bits we liked or disliked, and then catch up. Leaving this one I was shocked to learn that a major plot twist left some cold. I had to hark back to my true calling and explain the psychological reasoning behind the twist. We forget how powerful the mind is and when a Director and Writer comes along that understands the fragile nature of us all we’re given something exceptionally special.
This is the type of film that Hollywood wishes it could make. You take probably the best actress on the planet today, Cotillard, surround her with amazing supporting players, and a script that just nails the fragile human condition, it ends in a perfect storm of cinema. Cotillard plays Gabrielle from her teenage years into her forties with the most subtle of make up changes. The girl is a beautiful soul who believes in the passion of life. Jose is the farm hand that her Mother basically pays off to take the girl off their hands. Playing Jose is Alex Brendemuhl, and he is what my mother would have called a living Saint. When you hear the conditions that Gabrielle has for marrying him you’ll understand that more. Alex is an amazing performer, he understands that the film is about Cotillard and scratches back his performance so not to overshadow the main performer.
The story that takes you through the life of Gabrielle through her passionate view of the world, believing in the fictional love stories that she reads, wanting the passion that comes from affairs. When Marion travels to the Alps to get better and she meets the injured Soldier you know where it’s going, it’s predictable, but in the best possible way.
The film wraps itself around the strange love affairs that Gabrielle finds in life, how she pushes her husband away and then wants his affection more than anything, the relationship is so complex that it will leave you scratching your head. This is a proper mature film showing the main actress off to all her talents and should be enjoyed like a fine wine, or at least an expensive mineral water, not the cheap one from the local store. I couldn’t find fault with this and the level of script, performance, and the creation of the post war France was so spot on that you just fall into the world.
I’ve mentioned the twist, and I have to say, and don’t say it lightly, but it’s better than any I’ve seen in a movie in decades. This one is worth your time, go to the cinema, be an adult, and get one of the best films of the year.
Director: Nicole Garcia
Writers: Milena Agus, Natalie Carter, Jacques Fieschi, Nicole Garcia
Stars: Marion Cotillard, Louis Garrel, Alex Brendemühl