Two Films on Suicide

You are happily married. One day your husband dies suddenly in what appears to be an accident. You are grief-stricken and lost without him. Then you are told he committed suicide. How do you react?

This situation is explored in two foreign films: Maboroshi no Hikari/Maborosi (Japan 1995) and Sous le Sable/Under the Sand (France 2000). Both films are slow and painful, the tone echoing the character’s grief. Neither film wraps up neatly, acknowledging that the complex emotions caused by the suicide of the person closest to you, affects you for years.

Maboroshi no Hikari

In this early film, Kore-eda Hirokasu (the director of Afterlife) illustrates the unanswerable questions facing the young wife left behind. Why did he do it? I thought we were happy. Is it something I did? Is there something I don’t know. A mistress? Debts? At first she is so distraught that she cannot take care of herself or her infant son. In time, she begins a new life, but the pain remains.

Under the Sand

In Under the Sand, the couple is in their fifties. Married for 25 years, they live in the harmony of well-established habits. Every summer they vacation at the beach. On one such vacation, the husband disappears into the sea while the wife sunbathes on the beach.

Not only is Marie unable to cope with the idea that her husband committed suicide, she refuses even to accept that he is dead. She continues to refer to him in the present tense. When she is at home, she talks to him as if he is there.

Charlotte Rampling, still sexy in her fifties, gives a stunning performance as Marie.


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