Swimming Pool review

:. Director: François Ozon
:. Starring: Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier
:. Running Time: 1:42
:. Year: 2003
:. Country: France


Fans of bikinis and suntans, this film for dirty old men is for you! Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling—Under the Sand), a successful whodunit writer, goes through a personal crisis. She hopes to renew herself. Her editor lends her a house in the south of France. The editor's daughter Julie (Ludivine Sagnier—Water Drops On Burning Rocks) arrives, a provocative girl and a nymphomaniac in addition, who disturbs the writer's work. An ambiguous relationship is struck up between the two women, who are soon linked by a crime. Unless this is all a scam?

François Ozon (8 Women) has touched the bottom of the swimming pool. And the audience swallows a mouthful.

With an aplomb that almost illicits admiration, the director accumulates clichés: an Englishwoman, inevitably stiff and rigid, a shiny bimbo, crazy about sex, whose short shorts and naked breasts are obligingly filmed. All in all, the psychology of the characters turns up the most disturbing stereotypes. For a while, it's almost like watching Jean Becker's One Deadly Summer!

Ozon doesn't spare his audience or his actresses from the vulgarity, his direction or his purpose. The film is just a shadow display of fantasies of the week: the middle-class woman who sleeps with the gardener, the beautiful waiter who caresses himself in his speedo while contemplating the half-naked bimbo. One wonders how Charlotte Rampling could agree to debase herself like this! Ozon barely touches upon the Sapphic trail and doesn't deepen the attraction/repulsion relationship with governs the relationship between the two women (one is far, very far from Joseph Losey's Servant, for example).

Julie's sulfurous presence only has the effect of modifying her English culinary practices by replacing fat-free cheese and Diet Coke with week beer, sausage and foie gras! Quite simply ridiculous!

No eroticism here, but a pathetic catalogue of small middle-class fantasies. That was without counting on the poor conclusion of the film. For more than 90 minutes Ozon sets up a story that turns out to only reveal the writer's phantasmagoria. It's without scruple that one reveals this narrative trap door, as well as it's aggravating to note that Ozon constantly tries to place himself with contempt above his audience, when he's not manipulating it.

Those who are definitively partial to bathing suits can always fall back on women's magazines, which in this season consist of special issues relating to the piece of fabric in question.

  Sandrine Marques

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