Valley of Love
Isabelle Huppert and Gérard Depardieu play divorced actors Isabelle and Gérard who have long been estranged from one another and are forced to reunite because their deceased son has sent them each a suicide note before taking his own life. He urges them to visit Death Valley’s landmarks, following a precise itinerary, in order that he reappear to them.
Valley of Love’s somewhat esoteric, spiritual set-up is not for everybody, likewise, the obvious openness to interpretation and the film’s indecision between the pragmatic and the otherworldly. Nevertheless, this is a very worthwhile watch. Fragile and twitchy Huppert is wonderfully misplaced in the American setting, lost between motels and freeways, and her reaction is less repulsion than actual bafflement. Depardieu, in all his enormousness, manages to give his character grace and understatement. Slightly grumpy and with an absurd charm, he takes up the whole screen, thrusting his excessive physique through the pitiless heat or defiantly floating in pools like a dead walrus. It’s delightful to see this seemingly effortless joint venture between two masters at their best.
Puzzled by the reasons and unsure about the hopes of the endeavour, Isabelle and Gérard move from landmark to landmark through the beautiful scenery and, caught between present distance and old sympathies, try to avoid sentiment when addressing their grief, wrong decisions and failures, particularly concerning their son, who remains a mystery to both of them. The film doesn’t illuminate the character by giving him a voice to speak beyond the letters and we don’t know if the mission for his parents is an intended punishment, a wish for them to come together again, or if he is genuinely convinced of the positive outcome, as the clear and sober writing would suggest. At any rate, his parents manage to get it together somehow and continue their voyage. Slowly, the first mysterious signs start to appear and director Guillaume Nicloux either doesn’t know where to take it from there or knows very well not to take it anywhere.
Valley of Love does not yet have a UK release date.
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Watch the trailer for Valley of love here: