In When the Sea Rises, Moreau plays Irène, a middle-aged comedienne who travels across the French/Belgian border performing a one-woman show the real-life actress created 20 years prior. The stage act has Moreau/Irène dressed as a Beckettesque masked criminal clown — each night she seeks an audience member to be her “chicken,” the substitute for her fictional gunned-down husband. one such chicken is far-younger Dries (Wim Willaert), and his impromptu role in the act mirrors the one he’ll soon play in Irène’s life, as the two share a week of eccentric love before her return to dull, real-life hubby. Irène and Dries’ romance riffs on artistic sublimation and catharsis, and Rises’ best scenes heartbreakingly connect Irène’s clownish pleas with her actual yearnings. Unfortunately, the story remains rote and disappointingly predictable; despite Moreau and Willaert’s enthusiastic character interpretations, rises never transcends its light confines.
Opens January 13 at Cinema Village