2.15.2006

REVIEW: Swimming Pool (François Ozon, 2003)

When Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling,) famed author of harlequin detective novels, takes a solitary retreat from her London home to her publisher's palatial French country estate, she expects peace and quiet to work on her next big seller. She does not expect to meet her publisher's daughter, Julie (Ludivine Sagnier,) who is fed up with work and comes to the estate to satiate her appetite for easy times and promiscuous sex. Francois Ozon directs the multi-generational in this beautifully haunting loom of the creative process and our underlying desire for vice.

From the instant the opening credits began their delicate crawl, I was a leaf in Swimming Pool's breeze. The characters, uniquely developed under Ozon's careful eye, display a reality uncommon to other cinematic figures. Nearly every line of dialogue, every attitude and expression hints at a deeper intricacy - the subtle connections between things that may seem entirely parallel. Through these subtleties the most interesting aspects of the film arise.

I continued to be swept away into the film's world. Its variegated self-reflective nature and patient, almost Kubrick-esque cinematography kept me willingly in close attention. Rampling and Sagnier are unquestioned in their performances - they are Sarah and Julie and no one else. They lock and disjoint from one another as a shattered mirror being pieced together. We immediately connect with them in different fashions, and in allowing ourselves to set aside the penchant for nobility in cinematic portraits, the connection penetrates deeper levels.

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