Marion Cotillard Is a Disturbed Romantic in the Strange ‘From the Land of the Moon’
“From the Land of the Moon” is meant to be a romantic melodrama about obsession and love, but becomes a slog, offering never ending ennui for viewers. We meet Gabrielle (Marion Cotillard) driving to her son’s piano recital with her husband, Jose. They appear tender, but when she spots a specific street in the city, she abandons the cab to visit an apartment belonging to someone whom is later revealed to be a man she fell in love with some time ago.
But before we find out the results of that meeting, we learn about the young Gabrielle. She is a wandering young woman, in touch with her sexuality, and pining for a married school teacher in her hometown. Her family considers her crazy, and her mother sets up a marriage of convenience with a hired hand (her later husband, Jose). The two live practically as roommates until Gabrielle’s ongoing kidney stones threaten to cause major trauma, and she is sent away to a spa for treatment. There she meets a man she feels truly passionate about, Andres (Louis Garrel), a wounded soldier also suffering from kidney problems. They bond, but soon Gabrielle is well enough to return home. She does so reluctantly, resenting her husband and waiting for a word from Andres to come running to him.
At home, Gabrielle writes to him and waits, but soon discovers she is pregnant. Who is the father? And will Andres come for Gabrielle? Or could she learn to love her stoic husband, who actually bears some affection for her after all this time?
It is unclear how much the viewer is meant to sympathize or even empathize with Gabrielle. Is she a sexual free spirit repressed by society and her family? Or a borderline unhinged woman with dangerous obsessions and fantasies? Long stretches of minimal dialogue and a lot of staring into the distance do little to answer this conundrum. The kidney stones, so key to kicking off the plot at the beginning, never return, so there’s not even a chance to attempt for metaphor with Gabrielle’s mental and physical states.
The performances give away little as well. Everything feels like what one would expect from a French romantic drama, and even Cotillard can’t imbue her character with enough to be compelling on screen.
There is nothing truly terrible about the film, but it is ultimately a bore to watch. Slow, moping, and quiet to a fault, the run time drags on as Gabrielle goes through a life of meandering stillness. “From the Land of the Moon” tells a melodramatic story of romance, ennui, and mental illness that fails to stir the passionate feelings it hopes to evoke.
“From the Land of the Moon” opens in theaters July 28.