Valley of Love
Valley of Love is a tale first and foremost of loss, grief and blame one can feel upon realising their failures, and the companionship it can inspire in those suffering.
The film opens with a tracking shot of an anonymous lady walking away from the camera towards her hotel room accompanied by an unexplainably intense soundtrack by Charles Ives that is instantly engaging. This beautiful pairing of music and sound re-emerges throughout the film to evoke the smorgasbord of emotions depicted in the film.
Gerard (Gerard Depardieu) and Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert) have come to Death Valley because of a letter. A letter both received from their son, who committed suicide six months ago, promises his estranged parents that by reuniting and going through the journey he has planned for them he will reappear.
Their struggle is soaked in sadness with both acknowledging their failures that may have contributed to their son’s death, both hoping that the other can absolve their guilt. Depardieu and Hupert’s dynamic is inspired, one that has developed since their last onscreen appearance in the 1980’s film Loulou. The balance between the forever-worried and controlling ex-wife and the husband unfazed by the most remarkable events creates a pair that could battle the loneliness that consumes them if they find companionship. Depardieu provides an instantly likeable and humorous character with his whale-like physique and open attitude towards the bizarre quest he has been sent on.
Director and writer Guillaime Nicloux manages to explore a relationship that has suffered the toils life brings with a touch of comedy. His skilled portrayal of an aged relationship is a much better focus than the influence of the son on the pair, whose death forms the basis of the development of their relationship without being developed itself. The idea is lacking in foundations, and it is never clear if the purpose of the trip is that of a reconciliation of parents who were forever absent or indeed a supernatural resurrection.
Valley of Love is released nationwide on the 20th November 2015. It is part of the Love competition in the 59th London Film Festival.
Watch the trailer for Valley of Love here: