While not as brilliant or cinematically showy as his newer masterworks 8 Women and Swimming Pool, Francois Ozon’s mature fourth feature film (made at only thirty-four), stars the luminous Charlotte Rampling as a French wife whose husband disappears from a sandy beach while the two are on vacation. Audiences, like Rampling’s character Marie, assumes that he’s simply drowned until realizing that we never actually saw him go into the water, thus we are thrown into the same uncertain mindset as our leading lady, not fully understanding the husband’s fate when his body is never recovered. However, unable to have closure, Rampling’s grip on reality begins to unravel as she continues to blur memory with present day, seeing her husband (Bruno Cremer) as she goes about her daily routine and even more disturbingly, when she becomes romantically involved with another man. A vague, frustrating psychological study—quiet, short and unsettling—Rampling is wonderfully introspective and brave. Although Under the Sand doesn’t hold our attention with the same command Ozon put forth in his more recent works (mentioned earlier) it’s definitely worth a look for fans of Ozon or Rampling.
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