It’s fair to say that Marion Cotillard has never quite achieved the same level of success in Hollywood as she has back in France. With recent, somewhat uninspiring endeavours, from Macbeth to Allied to Assassin’s Creed, rarely has she been dealt a nuanced role quite like those we’ve seen her undertake in La Vie En Rose and Two Days, One Night. This a trend she has carried on, gifted with a layered character in Nicole Garcia’s From the Land of the Moon – and to mark the film’s release, we spent some time in Paris with the venerable writer and director.

“Marion is incredible in this movie and I don’t think she was even aware of being so good,” Garcia said. “In this movie it’s a new territory for her that she hasn’t explored for a while now, and there’s a lot of psychological fragility in this movie, combined with a strong sense of life. Since La Vie En Rose she hasn’t gone to territories that excessive, and in previous roles she wasn’t going to these extremes.”

“I had a very high opinion of this role and she achieved the idea that I had in mind. When we watch the movie we can identify with her, she becomes part of us, she’s walking on this edge and we’re afraid she might fall at one point or another. She’s really a great actress and the extreme this movie has brought her in to, revealed just how great she is.”

Garcia was a joy to interview, and while we enjoyed the conversation immensely, the sit-in translator less so, for every time she began to speak, Garcia interrupted, such was her energy and passion, this yearning to get her point across in the best possible way, with a project she clearly has so much investment in.

From the Land of the MoonCotillard was a common theme in the conversation, and understandably so given her remarkable turn as the protagonist Gabrielle. Set in the 1950s, we watch on as this free-spirited woman is sent away for treatment, as doctors want to treat both her kidney condition, and the fact she is perceived to be losing her mind, having committed a crime that can only de described as falling in love. It’s a multi-layered role that Cotillard has had to remain in France to portray, but Garcia doesn’t believe America is a lost cause in that regard.

“There are great leaders and directors like Jane Campion who have great dramatic characters for women that get strong performances, like The Piano for instance, or Nicole Kidman in The Portrait of a Lady. Meryl Streep too, in The Hours,” she said. “Sometimes you do get that kind of movie with big dramatic characters for women, but it’s true across the Atlantic Marion hasn’t had great roles. Since she received an Oscar she wants to live the American adventure and this is legitimate because of the worldwide recognition that you get from it, but it’s true she hasn’t had the roles she was given in Europe.”

From the Land of the Moon is based upon Milena Agus’ novel, and Garcia explained to us that when she first encountered it, she instantly knew it had to be her next movie.

“A friend recommended this novel to me and once I was flying and I bought the book at an airport. As soon as we landed I called my producer and asked for the rights. It’s a bestseller, so it wasn’t easy to get the rights but finally we got them, and my producer was an enthusiastic as I was about this book.”

From the Land of the Moon“The original book was written by an Italian author and is set in Italy, so I was actually surprised there was something for me in this book, but I felt there was something about me in the foundations of this book.”

We asked what had changed in this adaptation that derives from the move from Italy to France, and Garcia tells us that, since the strength of the character is such a prominent aspect of this title, both in the book and now the film, narratively very little has been altered.

“Nothing has changed from moving the story from Italy to France. It’s about a woman who is scandalous, she frightens everybody because she longs for something that everybody refuses to her. People say she’s insane, and they want to put her into a psychiatric hospital. But she’s looking for a thing lots of women are; love. But it’s love that is both carnal and sacred, it’s both things she’s longing for, it’s her pursuit in life.”

“She’s very sexual but at the same time she’s driven by the mystic of love that she’s learnt about in books, nobody taught her about it. She thinks that if she cannot find what she’s looking for she may become insane, and she’ll prove other people right. So she could become insane if she doesn’t find this, this quest is really the meaning of her life.”

From the Land of the Moon is released on June 9th