Valley of Love. Guillaume Nicloux. France/Belgium.
Two titans of French cinema, Isabelle Huppert and Gérard Depardieu, re-team after Maurice Pialat’s 1980 Loulou to play loose versions of themselves (they’re both actors, but he’s the one strangers in America recognize) as a divorced couple who meet again in California following the death of their estranged gay son. The son has left a cryptic suicide letters to each of them, which serve as a treasure map of sorts across Death Valley leading them into the unknown, together.
Unfairly dismissed when it premiered in competition at Cannes last year and otherwise ignored when it was released stateside this spring, Valley of Love is a gorgeous, effectively haunting delight. Director Guillaume Nicloux is admirably unafraid of exploring a variety of possibilities in the film as he plays along with (and against) the characters’ imaginations, fears, regrets, and expectations throughout their journey. Huppert is as splendid as ever, but it’s Depardieu’s affable, gentle performance—his best in so many years—that truly resonates.
Valley of Love was released by Strand Releasing in the U.S. and is currently streaming on Netlflix and other VOD platforms. It was released by Artificial Eye in the U.K. this fall and by Le Pacte in France last year.
With: Isabelle Huppert, Gérard Depardieu, Dan Warner, Aurélia Thiérrée, Dionne Houle