Mal de Pierres (From the Land of the Moon)
Nicole Garcìa’s Mal de Pierres resembles many films of its kind, and even when it flirts with more interesting twists, it fails to follow them to a satisfactory conclusion. Selected for the Official Competition, Mal de Pierres relies heavily on husky whispering and teary eyes, but seldom truly touches the viewer.
Eternally charismatic Marion Cotillard plays Gabrielle, unhappy country girl desperately looking for passionate love story. Her controlling mother weds her to a Spanish seasonal worker) and assures the start of a hypocritical bourgeois marriage. Suffering from “mal de pierres” (“illness of stones”, as in kidney stones), she reluctantly leaves for the spa where sickly lieutenant André Sauvage (Louis Garrel) may just allow her to find some joy.
Towards the end Garcìa attempts a leap into a surprise ending, which however remains unconvincing and inconsistent. Not unpleasant to watch, Mal de Pierres stays safely within the boundaries of a somewhat conventional filmmaking, insisting on the sentimental but not reaching the intensity it visibly tries to attain.
Calling to mind once too often the scenarios romantic TV series, the emotional dimension of Mal de Pierres is mild and whiny. The bucolic scenery of French Provence lends a helping hand, granting the story a picturesque frame. Cinematographer Christophe Beaucarne has a number of pleasurable shots, and the work of costumers and set design is equally laudable: stretching over several years, attention to detail in recreating the style and homes of French middle class of the 1950s and 1960s.
Adapted from Milena Agus’s homonym novel, Mal de Pierre quickly brushes past social realities, while all efforts are concentrated on the main character and her troubled relationships to the (few) men of her life. The result is an exasperating but unfortunately merely cursory exploration of the woman’s unhappiness. To put it simply (for the sake of a generalisation), it feels like Marion Cotillard cries for half of the film and inexplicably runs through forests rest of the time.
Mal de Pierres does not yet have a UK release date.
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Watch a clip from Mal de Pierres here: