Sous le Sable
© Arte France Cinéma / Euro Space
Fidélité Productions / Haut et Court
Distributed by Cinemien for The Netherlands
Marie (Charlotte Rampling) and Jean (Bruno Cremer) are a husband and wife who,
after 25 years of marriage, have become inseparable and relaxed in their
routine with each other, or at least it would so seem. One day, when they
visit the beach near their country house in Les Landes, Jean goes for a swim
while Marie sunbathes and he never returns to her side. It is at this point
that the private voyage of Marie begins. She cannot come to terms with the
thought of losing her husband, whether it be through accidental death,
suicide, or desertion.
An intelligent woman and university professor, she obliterates the situation,
hoping that denial will make it untrue. (Nevertheless, the subject matter
she chooses to discourse upon in the classroom is Virginia Woolf's "The
Waves".) When confronted by a new student, who was one of the lifeguards
present on the beach that fateful day, she denies having been at that location
last summer and tells the boy he must be mistaken. The well-meant attempt of
her friend, Amanda (Alexandra Stewart), to introduce her to the bachelor
Vincent (Jacques Nolot) and induce her to continue onward with her life only
results in increased personal confusion.
One of the most painfully disturbing moments is the confrontation between wife
and mother. Suddenly, vengeful streaks are unleashed in a rivalry that most
likely had been kept suppressed and remained silent whenever these two women
were in the presence of their respective husband and son. On the other hand,
it might only be the release of personal tensions and fears which have mounted
recently as a result of the suspected death.
It is, of course, always a delight to watch Charlotte Rampling and her face
and grace enchant us as we empathetically accompany her on this painful
chapter of a woman's life. The understatement with which she conveys every
aspect of her dilemma remains the central axis for the entire film.
Director François Ozon, who has previously shown his sharp edge with
black humor in the hilarious and dark "SitCom", presents us here
with an analysis of absence and emptiness as elements in the turbulent story
revealing a woman's desperation when cast into an unexpected world of loss.
An ostrich, as the story goes, hides its head under the sand in order to avoid
danger; this adage, in reality, would appear not to be true.
© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett