Valley of Love, Guillaume Nicloux’s latest film, imagines a holiday to ruin all holidays. Not only are Gérard (Gérard Depardieu) and Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert) estranged lovers, unlike the other tourists in Death Valley, their trip aims to pick apart their son Michael’s suicide note – six months after his death.
Under the punishing Nevada sun, the couple follow a strict itinerary of times and places outlined by Michael, the promise being that if they tick off all the landmarks in the right order he will return to them somehow (albeit briefly).
There is a delirious quality to Nicloux’s storytelling, which unsettles the barriers between reality and artifice, past and present. Both protagonists are at home with the mixture of hotel-room boredom and searing desperation.
Meanwhile, the pair’s on-screen history (Loulou, Going Places ) and the fact that they share their characters’ names adds a further layer of intrigue to an ultimately disorientating film. It’s as claustrophobic and heated as you’d expect and leaves you guessing right until the final frame.
Valley of Love, Guillaume Nicloux, is available on DVD (Curzon Artificial Eye).
Read more film reviews in the current issue of Aesthetica. Pick up a copy at www.aestheticamagazine.com.
Follow us on Twitter @asffest for the latest news in film in the UK and internationally.
1. Still from Valley of Love.