Under the Sand
Very French in its nuanced undertaking, Under the Sand is a lingering exploration of love, loss, denial, and how people struggle to get on with their lives after a shattering change. Longtime spouses Jean and Marie Drillon (Bruno Cremer and the still-sultry Brit Charlotte Rampling) make their usual pilgrimage to the beach for a quiet getaway, but it soon goes awry when Jean vanishes while Marie lies dozing on the beach. Did he accidentally drown? Commit suicide? Run away? A thorough investigation turns up nothing, and Marie returns home to Paris to resume her life as if Jean was still there. She cooks meals for him, shops for him and talks to her increasingly alarmed friends of him in the present tense. It's more than just a breakdown, however, and Marie's need to continue to include Jean in everything, including her new love life, touches a deeply emotional chord. Directed with a distant but charged detachment by François Ozon, the film is a triumph of subtlety and emotional pathos, and a marvelous return to the screen for Rampling.