Mal de Pierres (2016)

Mal de Pierres, also known as From the Land of the Moon, is a 2016 french film starring Marion Cotillard, Louis Garrel, and Àlex Brendemühl. It competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, and also received 8 nominations at the César Awards.

… And YET it scores a meagre 31% on Rotten Tomatoes. I think the algorithm used to aggregate scores at Rotten Tomatoes seriously needs some looking into.

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In 1950s France, Gabrielle is a passionate, free-spirited woman who was forced into a loveless marriage by her parents. When she contracted a health complication, she was sent away to the Alps for a health treatment. There, she meets and falls in love with a lieutenant who is gravely ill from the Indochina war. Gabrielle then yearns to free herself and run away with him.

I honestly didn’t expect myself to like the film THIS MUCH. It was on a bit of an impulse when we decided to watch this, because it was nearly the end of the French Film Festival here in Singapore and we were scrambling to find time to squeeze in a film. I guess, a part of me was affected when I saw the ratings online (2.5 on rogerebert.com!! faints.) I significantly lowered my expectations as I was so worried this was gonna be another episode where I wasted my money on a bad film.

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But Mal de Pierres was so… dreamy. I can’t wait to watch it again! Everything about it was beautiful, from the scenes, to the cast, to the language. The flow of the story was so smooth, I felt like I was gliding along the whole time. The pace of the film was slow and gentle but yet very mesmerizing. I liked how despite the backbone of the film being a rather serious drama/romance type of film, there were still snippets of comedic elements strategically inserted throughout. It made the experience very enjoyable, with various highs and lows, although the plot of the film was rather straightforward.

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This was one of my favourite scenes of the film. After Gabrielle’s mother leaves the frame, we see Gabrielle sneak out of the darkness like a phantom. I vividly remember gasping in surprise at how stunning that scene was. I loved everything about the cinematography of this film! The scenes transported me to 1950s France effortlessly.

Apart from Marion Cotillard (because she’s always amazing), the other two actors who played Jose and Andre also gave spellbinding performances. I seriously can’t stop thinking about this film even though I saw it four whole days ago! All three of them played characters with such tortured souls, it made them so complex and admirable. I felt worthless when I compared my life’s experiences to theirs.

I actually especially fell in love with Jose (see picture below), a character who was an honest man of few words; And when he spoke, he made his words count. Some people might find his character “boring”, as did Gabrielle, but I think people should not confuse stoicism with being boring, it’s totally different! Jose and Andre were both rather stoic characters, they reminded me of the cast of Dunkirk somehow.

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Gosh, I can go on raving about this film for quite a while. So I’d just cut to the chase: I highly recommend Mal de Pierres if you’re looking for a french romance film to watch! By the way, it’s rated R21 for sex and nudity, just thought I should give you a heads-up. Then again, with all french films you should always be prepared for some form of sex/nudity. I honestly can’t remember watching a french film that did not have a nude scene.

I love this movie!!