Under the Sand (2000)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - May 4, 2001 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - France , Japan   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Bob Mastrangelo

Sous le Sable belongs to Charlotte Rampling. Delivering a commanding, devastating, and nuanced performance, Rampling portrays Marie Drillon, a middle-aged professor who goes through an emotional roller coaster after the sudden disappearance of her husband. Rampling beautifully handles Marie's various transformations, making it appear outwardly as if she is coping with reality, while inwardly she is collapsing. The writing occasionally lets Rampling down -- the story's twists and turns eventually strain credibility, the scenes do not always work to their fullest potential, and the forced ambiguity of the ending is unnecessary. Still, director Francois Ozon also makes some strong choices. For instance, allowing the audience to see Jean when Marie sees him helps viewers to identify with her. And in Marie's encounter with Jean's mother Suzanne, the subtle hatred between the two women slowly escalates, nearly reaching a stage of vitriol at the end. Ozon also confidently handles such tricky and potentially cliché-ridden scenes as Marie's visit to her husband's study, which could have been heavy-handed but instead is quite moving, and Marie's first time making love to someone other than Jean. Bruno Cremer also turns in a sensitive, almost silent performance as Jean, but this is ultimately Charlotte Rampling's film.