In post-World War II France, Gabrielle’s idealistic dreams of true love make her a rebel, and are even considered a sign of insanity. Forced by her parents to marry José, a devoted Spanish farm worker, Gabrielle vows never to love him, and is soon sent away to the Alps to receive a cure for kidney stones, the suspected cause of her ‘delusions.’ Here, she meets Andre Sauvage, a dashing veteran of the Indochinese War, who rekindles her passion for love. Amidst their plans to run away together, Gabrielle and Andre must conquer those intent on tearing them apart.
As is the case with the majority of her films, Marion Cotillard delivers a raw, captivating performance which shows the vulnerability of her character. Her subtle expressions help to illustrate the inner struggles she is conflicted with which makes the role all the more heartbreaking. Whether it’s a French or English film, Cotillard always manages to grab the attention of her viewers with her fearless portrayals. What hurts the narrative is how uninteresting the character of Gabrielle is. Cotillard does her best to make a bland character compelling and she for the most part pulls it off.
Neither of the two actors, Louis Garrel and Alex Brendemuhl, are able to inject any life into the film with their one note characters. Both of them do fine work but like Gabrielle, lack any real human traits that any viewers would grab on and relate to. The three of them move across the screen as if they’re in some kind of slumber. The decisions made by the characters throughout the film seem as if they’re out of a fan fiction with the ridiculous twist and turns the story takes. From the Land of the Moon lazily attempts to introduce a riveting love triangle but the lack of urgency in the script prevents it from reaching new heights.
At 120 minutes, the film doesn’t start to establish a story until the hour mark which by then is too late. Besides another stellar Cotillard performance, there isn’t much in the film that will leave a lasting impression. The pacing is dreadfully slow and the third act takes it from mediocre to straight up silly. The meandering story ends with a twist that will leave viewers scratching their heads. For a film that features breathtaking visuals and a star like Cotillard, From the Land of the Moon becomes a melodrama with how often it embraces the typical clichés of its genre.