Swimming Pool

on July 02, 2003 by Mary Colbert
The prolific young gun of the French new guard (this is his sixth film in as many years), Francois Ozon adores female actors--and it's mutual. He prefers their sensitivity and their ability to dig deeper and take bigger risks than their male counterparts. How many other directors could have attracted a French femme thesp lineup of the caliber of "8 Women?"After that stylized theatrical ensemble piece, Ozon returns with a more intimate but very entertaining first English-language mystery thriller. Back as his leads are Charlotte Rampling ("Sous le Sable") and Ludivine Sagnier ("8 Women," "Water Drops on Burning Rocks") in a two-hander of the attraction/repulsion of opposites and the volatile, complex relationship between creator and muse.

Rampling plays Samantha Morton, a novelist who churns out formulaic mystery crime thrillers. When writer's block obstructs her output, her publisher (Charles Dance) suggests a stay at his summer house in Provence, France. There's just one omission: Also residing at the abode is his daughter Julie, a young precocious temptress whose promiscuous lifestyle threatens to disrupt--or even implode--repressed Sarah's regimented routine. That is, until Sarah's insatiable voyeurism turns to creative inspiration as her attention turns from another Inspector Dorwell adventure ("Inspector Dorwell on Holiday," "Inspector Dorwell Wears a Kilt") to headstrong, youthful lust.

But Julie turns out to be more complicated than first impressions suggest and, as the relationship between the two houseguests ricochets between hostility and complicity, through cat-and-mouse games Ozon peels the layers of both characters and subverts traditional thriller patterns. The end result is an entertaining drama, showcasing strong performances from both actresses. Sex, murder, mystery, psychological drama, vintage Rampling, sensuous Sagnier, and a summer house in Provence--here Ozon has all bases covered.-- Starring Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier and Charles Dance. Directed and written by Francois Ozon. Produced by Olivier Delbosc and Marc Missonnier. A Focus release. Mystery/Thriller. Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language, some violence and drug use. Running time: 102 min.

Tags: Starring Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier and Charles Dance. Directed and written by Francois Ozon, Produced by Olivier Delbosc, Marc Missonnier, Focus, Mystery, Thriller.

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