REVIEW: From the Land of the Moon (or Sexy Kidney Stones)

As roles of ingénue begin to dry up in Hollywood, Marion Cotillard seems to be favouring French-speaking parts. She is practically a Cannes mainstay thanks to her collaborations with the Dardenne brothers, Jacques Audiard and Xavier Dolan.

One of Cotillard’s lesser known Cannes entries arrives to SK this week: From the Land of the Moon (the French title, Mal de Pierres, is so much better). Set in France in the 50’s, the film tells the story of Gabrielle, a liberated/unsociable (your pick) woman stuck in an arranged marriage. Even though her husband José (Alex Brenemühl) is remarkably tolerant to all her unpleasantness, Gabrielle sulks and mops non-stop.

A sexy case of kidney stones sends Gabrielle to a health spa, where she meets the handsomely crumbling Lt. Sauvage (Louis Garrel, The Dreamers). Gabrielle falls in love with him (or the romantic ideal he represents), a passion that leads to further estrangement from her husband.

Although based on a novel by Milena Agus, From the Land of the Moon owes a fair share to “Madame Bovary”. Even after factoring French countryside male privilege, Gabrielle is consistently unlikeable through most of the film, making difficult to care about her breakdowns, let alone root for her.

While handsomely shot and superbly acted, not only director Nicole García fails at spinning a good yarn, she asks from the audience some substantial leaps of faith without earning them. From the Land of the Moon is not without merit -Cotillard’s expressive face is compulsively watchable- but be prepared for some significant suspension of disbelief. Two and a half prairie dogs.

From the Land of the Moon opens at Studio 7 this Friday 14th.

Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.