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Under the Sand

22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Named one of People Mag's "Most Beautiful People", Charlotte Rampling gives one of her most acclaimed performances in Francois Ozon's mesmerizing tale of loss and grief. For many years, Marie and Jean have happily spent their vacations together at their country house. One day at the beach, Marie naps in the sand while Jean goes for a swim. When she awakens, he is gone. Did he drown? Did he run off? Distraught, Marie notified the authorities but after an extensive search, no body is found.

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François Ozon's Under the Sand revolves around a tender, frightening contrast not easily forgotten: the dead live on only as long as we remember them. Marie (a luminous Charlotte Rampling) and Jean (Bruno Cremer), a middle-aged couple, are on vacation. As they ready the beach house almost wordlessly, a long-standing, intense love is immediately understood. While Marie naps on the shore, Jean goes off for a swim from which he never returns. Six months later, back in her empty Paris apartment, Marie goes about her life as if Jean is still there with her, reading in bed, massaging her feet, sitting at the breakfast table. At dinner parties and lunch dates, her close friends are visibly appalled her behavior. It becomes clear that Marie's place in society is increasingly precarious with a ghost at her side: her husband's bank accounts remain frozen because no body has been identified, her lectures at the university end abruptly in silence, her untimely laughter frightens a new lover. Ozon does not manipulate the viewer with surprise endings or try to charm with gags. Instead, we are intimately drawn into Marie's refusal to let go and her awful panic as Jean begins to fade. --Fionn Meade

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Product Details

  • Actors: Charlotte Rampling, Bruno Cremer, Jacques Nolot, Alexandra Stewart, Pierre Vernier
  • Directors: François Ozon
  • Writers: François Ozon, Emmanuèle Bernheim, Marcia Romano, Marina de Van
  • Producers: Marc Missonnier, Olivier Delbosc
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Fox Lorber
  • DVD Release Date: November 27, 2001
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Domestic Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • International Shipping: This item is not eligible for international shipping. Learn More
  • ASIN: B00005OSK8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,093 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Under the Sand" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Under the Sand may be the most astoundingly beautiful film all year, not to mention one of the most heartbreaking portraits of grief on the screen since The Sweet Hereafter. It's sober, solemn, and somehow liberating--I feel more human now that it's over, and seeing it has become a pleasurable thing to look back on.
The film, about a woman in her fifties (Charlotte Rampling) whose husband disappears on the beach and is never seen again, is a fascinating examination of loss and a profoundly moving film about love. It is fiercely unsentimental, almost bitterly angry at times, in the way that we curse those we love who have left us without warning. The brilliant final shots, which do absolutely nothing to explain what really happened to the husband, or what will happen to the wife, make exactly the right ending.
Rampling is the most perfect thing about the film--never before has her total prescence been so apparent on the screen, and the effect is astonishing. Time has only worked to ripen her unusual, angular radiance; she's luminous and sensual in every act we watch her perform. The film's images, each so clean and smooth, unable to contain their own natural brilliance, are sheer poetry: fingers, clutching sand; the way that light and water can distort the human figure; the buttering of a piece of toast; finally, the canvas of the human body and the beauty of its conjunction with another in an act of love.
Under the Sand is a reminder of what love and loss really are--you can see them in nearly every shot of Charlotte Rampling's unforgettable, candid face.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 30, 2005
Format: DVD
François Ozon is a rare director, one who takes a simple story, places it in the eyes and bodies of his cast, and simply lets the tale tell itself. SOUS LE SABLE (UNDER THE SAND) is an unforgettable film experience that probes deeply into our psyches, hearts, and reason: how do we cope with sudden death?

Opening quietly in the French countryside, a loving middle-aged couple begins a brief vacation in a family house, quietly and lovingly going about removing dustcovers, opening shuttered windows - settling in for a time of being alone together. Marie (Charlotte Rampling) is a professor of English in Paris (her specialty is Virginia Woolf) and Jean (Bruno Cremer) is her retired husband. Their long-term love is palpable: Ozon provides almost no dialogue, as none is needed to establish this special relationship, so powerful is the non-verbal communication between Rampling and Cremer. They visit the beach the next day and while Marie is sunbathing, Jean goes for a swim - and never returns. Marie searches for him, engages lifeguards, and ultimately returns to Paris, trembling but intact. Months later, while Jean is never found, we see Marie reacting as though he still exists. She visualizes him in various situations and the two actors (yes, Jean is present in these scenes) interact as though nothing has changed. But Marie's friends note with great concern that she is 'delusional' and make various attempts for her to seek professional and emotional help. When news eventually arrives that Jean's body has been found, she internally denies this possibility but eventually returns to the vacation house town to identify the bloated corpse. Even at this point, though obviously in shock, she denies that the corpse is that of her beloved Jean.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By LGwriter on November 13, 2004
Format: DVD
A brilliant companion piece to Swimming Pool, Francois Ozon's Under the Sand similarly casts Charlotte Rampling as the lead female, here in a tale of loss. Interestingly, in both films, she has a position of someone not only literate but directly involved in literature. In Swimming Pool, she is a writer; here, she is an instructor of literature.

This is key to understanding how subtle Ozon is in these two masterful films. Parallel in both works is the fusing of fantasy and reality. In Under the Sand, Marie's (Rampling) husband disappears and her fantasy life--reinforced, it is implied, by her profession--blossoms into imagining her husband still with her, long after his disappearance, and, as well, feeling hands stroking all parts of her body in one amazing scene. More subtly, Ozon here, as in Swimming Pool, uses the mix of French and English--both language and culture--to emphasize the blurring of fantasy and reality. When Marie's best friend--like her, another bilingual English woman married to a French man--speaks to her, it is sometimes in French, sometimes in English, indicating the fluidity of thought and feeling between two modes of existence. Marie's friend sympathizes with her loss--French--but wants her to face up to the reality of what has happened and continue with her life--English.

Similarly, Marie's new lover tells her that he thinks of the English as morbid. But he is French and tells her this in French; it shows, Ozon says, that there is a desire in the French to feel deeply, contrasted with the English who desire to think deeply. Such is the implication here. Marie IS French, though born English, and it is just this fusing of the two cultures within herself that results in her confusion of fantasy and reality.
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