Isablle Huppert is one of the more definitive French actors. With a career spanning decades, and with eclectic, bizarre and dark movie choices, she has produced stunning performances including in The Piano Teacher, 8 Women and most recently Things To Come. Set to power her career even further in the thought-provoking and disturbing Paul Verhoeven feature Elle next year, Huppert is sure to thrill more fans than ever before.
Playing opposite another French cinematic icon, Gérard Depardieu, she excels once more in the tender, witty drama Valley Of Love.
The film revolves around a French ex-couple who are reunited when their son’s suicide note begs them to visit California’s Death Valley, where he is supposedly going to visit them. Along the way the macabre, the unusal, and the emotional start to affect their strained relationship as they have to navigate mourning and old lustful feelings.
Guillaume Nicloux’s dramatic work has shades of Lynch and Cronenberg as memories and grief play heavily on the psyches of both characters. While a combination of anguish, alcohol and the stark Californian heat are clearly at work, there is also an undertow of ‘what if’ as we ponder whether Michael really has returned to spark passion and unity between his parents. It’s this charming and enthralling question that draws you into the visceral, brooding drama.
The crux of Valley Of Love’s excellence is the acting. This is indelible and incredible work by Depardieu and Huppert. Not only do they spark with chemistry, allowing us to believe that the pair have shared heart and soul in the past, but they have aged brilliantly, and their wounded separation creates great tension. As they are caught in the pain of losing their child, they journey through emotions both poignant and extreme.
Bizarre in places, haunting in others, and brilliant throughout, Valley Of Love is a touching exploration of loss and yearning, portrayed by two of France’s finest actors.
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