From the Land of the Moon is an elegantly shot tale of l'amour fou that could be eyeroll-inducing were its leads not so charismatic. In post-World War II France, Gabrielle (Marion Cotillard), a free-spirited but troubled sophisticate, is married against her will to a farmer, Jose (Alex Brendemühl). Sent to a sanatorium to recuperate from health issues, Gabrielle meets the excellently named Andre Sauvage (Louis Garrel), a handsome injured veteran with whom she begins an affair. Garrel, with his bedroom gaze and Roman nose, makes a fine foil to the coarse husband, but at times the emphasis upon his sensitivity (He plays piano! He has elegant hands! He reads!) is a touch too obvious. It's inevitable that Gabrielle and Andre will end up making love -- director Nicole Garcia photographs them in sculptural tableaus straight out of a romance novel.
In the final act, the narrative takes a twist that veers into the realm of psychological horror. This reveal (which I won't spoil here) is borderline absurd, but fits in with the overheated, tragic narrative. Cotillard, her character suffering from vaguely defined physical and mental illness, gives a performance reminiscent of Isabelle Adjani in the '70s and '80s -- all wide, sad blue eyes, and bodily flailing. The film could be shorter and perhaps more logical, and as the soap-opera drama builds, the timeline becomes muddled. Still, there's something pleasantly old-fashioned about its commitment to grandiose emotion. The enduring image is of Cotillard, in a demure sweater and long skirt, gazing from a distance at the dreamy Garrel. From the Land of the Moon prioritizes a woman's longing, and casts everything in a gauzy, melodramatic light.
Nicole GarciaMarion Cotillard, Javier Cámara, Louis GarrelNicole Garcia, Jacques FieschiIFC Films