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Movie Review: Under the Sand

Story: I wanted to see this film before I left for vacation (yes, I am still a little jet-lagged) but missed the chance. So how pleased was I to see that it was still playing at two local theaters? Very pleased, indeed! My instincts were correct. This film was a winner.

Young French director and writer Francois Ozon allows the fabulous Charlotte Rampling to do her thing. The film opens without much dialogue (which will be good for people who do not like to read subtitles) between an obviously long married couple as they drive to their summer home for a vacation. This is an often used cinematic technique (the long car trip) that quickly and easily sets up the relationship of the characters for the viewer. Fifteen minutes into the film the husband vanishes on a trip to the beach. Then the film really begins. The wife goes through the psychological torment of wondering what happened to her husband. She enters a world of denial about his disappearance. Did he drown? Or did he just leave? The film is terrific because it does not become a thriller or a mystery. It retains its beauty by depicting loss, grief and love with absolute integrity. I enjoyed this very foreign (French) treatment of death, sex, women and life. If you enjoy incredible acting, run to see this film.

Acting: Charlotte Rampling at age 56 gives a tour de force (how do you like my French)? performance. She is riveting, gorgeous, intense, intelligent and forceful.

Critters: I was surprised that in a French film there were no doggies.

Food: Again, for a French film, another surprise, there was very little to eat. Surprisingly French fries and pasta were featured. I thought that was funny.

Visual Art: Some very nice paintings and prints.

Blatant Product Placement: None.

Soundtrack: Melancholy and appropriate.

Opening Titles: A nice stark contrast between the soothing landscape and the very red titles.

Theater Audience: More crowded than I would have thought. I think everyone else was at Pearl Harbor, in the theater next door. But there were no crazy people (at least not on the surface).

Quirky Meter: 2

Predictability Level: Low

Oscar Worthy: Yes. Rampling was terrific.

Nit Picking: Nothing to report.

Big Screen or Rental: I doubt that this will get wide spread play, so rental will be fine. How about a Charlotte Rampling film festival weekend? She has been in the movies for the past 35 years and has a long filmography. Some of my favorites are: Angel Heart, The Verdict, Georgy Girl, Stardust Memories, and the awful Orca.

Length: 100 minutes