Alluring depressions abound in newcomer Antoine Barraud's "The Sinkholes," a French psychodrama in which an actress succumbs to the call of the depths following the disappearance of her hubby, a Lyon professor who specializes in the titular earth openings.

Alluring depressions abound in newcomer Antoine Barraud’s “The Sinkholes,” a French psychodrama in which an actress succumbs to the call of the depths following the disappearance of her hubby, a Lyon professor who specializes in the titular earth openings. A marketable Mathieu Amalric stars as the spelunking spouse, while Nathalie Boutefeu impresses as the mentally unstable wife who decides to climb into a post-earthquake hole under her bed. But the pic’s subsequent swerve into more surreal territory lacks the psychological finesse to lift the endeavor to a higher plane, suggesting festival limbo rather than arthouse breakout.

Georges (Amalric) and France (Boutefeu) are in a Spanish-speaking tropical country, where Georges will lead an expedition to inspect newly found sinkholes. After several quakes and no news from Georges, France becomes convinced he’s dead, and her mind starts to wander, leading her, via her bedroom, to the Earth’s depths, where her fears physically manifest themselves in the shapes of near-naked men. Earlier old-school thriller/horror touches, including an Anglophone housekeeper (Marta Hoskins) in the Mrs. Danvers mold, work better than the underdeveloped psychosomatic undertow. Camerawork is loose, sound and production design indie-budget impressive.

The Sinkholes

France

Production

A Les Films du Belier production, in association with Papaye, with the participation of France 2. Produced by Justin Taurand. Directed, written by Antoine Barraud.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Gordon Spooner; editors, Barraud, Fred Piet; music, Sebastian von Roland; production designers, Jean-Charles Duboc, Anne Delepoulle; costume designers, Moira Douget; sound (Dolby Digital), Piet, Gilles Benardeau; casting, Jeremie Santander. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Filmmakers of the Present), Aug. 4, 2012. Running time: 65 MIN.

With

Nathalie Boutefeu, Mathieu Amalric, Marta Hoskins, Mario Dragunsky, Antonio Armando, Alvarez Vincent Launay. (French, English, Spanish dialogue)
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