The Valley of Love
The much-loved cine-couple Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert return to the big screen in Guillaume Nicloux’s new feature film Valley of Love, a touching two-hander that sees a pair of disgruntled ex-lovers come to terms with the untimely death of their estranged son.
Set in the sweaty yet beautiful outback of California’s Death Valley, Depardieu and Huppert embark on a pseudo pilgrimage choreographed by their late son Michael, who promises to reveal himself to them once more should they follow his instructions to the letter. Both consumed with guilt, Michael’s journey is designed to bring the two together again so that they can come to terms with their struggles, with themselves and each other.
The concept is a wry twist on a “buddy” movie with an innovative – if somewhat bizarre – narrative that starts off well but unfortunately falls short. The thread of the plot begins to unravel towards the end of the second act as it drifts into paranormal territory, leaving the audience behind in it’s wake. The more Lynchian elements and out-of-place thriller tropes do not benefit the progression and understanding of the movie and instead rather disrupt the flow of what was before an entertaining, somewhat moving tale.
Yet The Valley of Love is redeemed slightly by fantastic performances from Depardieu and Huppert, who possess undeniable chemistry. It is as though the two roles were crafted entirely with them in mind, as both actors seem as natural with each other on the screen as they do off. This, alongside sublime, artful cinematography from Christophe Offenstein, adds to the beauty and tangibility of the picture, though one can’t help but think that such talent is rather wasted.
With great casting and interesting themes, it’s a shame that The Valley of Love did not pack more of a punch.
The Valley of Love will be released in cinemas and on demand on 12th August 2016.
Watch the trailer for The Valley of Love here: