Under the Sand
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the movie that started the Rampling "return" and led to 45 Years. It's in French w/titles. She is, of course, superb. And she just keeps on working!Published 2 months ago by Jack
One of Charlotte's most memorable performances. Truly moving.Published 6 months ago by George Wright
Very moving and realistic. I liked that this movie was realistic, slow and quiet.Published 17 months ago by EM
We're afficionados of Kermer's Maigret, and Rampling's entire oeuvre (withe the exception of The Night Porter), so we're an easy sell. Read morePublished on June 11, 2014 by Amazon Customer