Under The Sand

aka SOUS LE SABLE

Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Charlotte Rampling, Bruno Cremer

Director: Francois Ozon

When he was 9 or 10 years old the director Francois Ozon went on holiday with his parents to Les Landes, in the South West of France. Every day they bumped into a Dutch couple on the beach. One day the man went swimming and he never came back. The memory stuck with Ozon into adulthood and he often thought about what might have happened to the Dutch woman who was left alone.

This memory was the inspiration for the film UNDER THE SAND. Charlotte Rampling plays Marie an English lecturer at University in Paris who’s married to Jean (Bruno Cremer). The film begins with the couple leaving the city for their country house. They’re relaxed and calm with each other after 25 years of marriage – a contended couple with a beautiful apartment in the city, many friends and interests, and the owners of an idyllic bolt-hole in the country. The perfect French middle-class, middle-aged couple.

On the first day of the holiday they go to the beach together, and Jean never returns from his swim. Marie is devastated and can’t accept the fact that he may never return. The rest of the film follows what happens to her on her return to Paris.

Like Demi in GHOST and Juliet in TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY Marie continues to talk to her lover. She even sees him, talks about him to her friends as if she’s just seen him and will return to him at home in the evening. Her friends are worried about her and want her to accept her loss and move on, handle her finances and even find a new man.

UNDER THE SAND is about grief, and how the human mind tries to cope with bereavement. Grief counsellors will tell you about denial, depression, loneliness and finally acceptance in coming to terms with loss and UNDER THE SAND deals with these issues in a touching and sensitive way. Charlotte Rampling is excellent in her role in the film, which won the Honorary Cesar Award this year.

4 out of 6 stars

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