Swimming Pool

Screening on Film
Directed by François Ozon.
With Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier, Charles Dance.
France/UK, 2003, 35mm, color, 102 min.
English and French with English subtitles.

With his archly stylish and self-conscious thriller, Ozon made clear his playful dedication to a postmodern variant of auteurist cinema by taking the title, sundrenched setting and uneasy eroticism from Jacques Deray’s eponymous, now-classic 1969 film to create an uncanny almost-doppelgänger feature placed in deliberate quotes by the figure of Charlotte Rampling as a popular but frustrated British crime novelist come to France to try and write in a different vein. What Rampling encounters in her promised Provence idyll is, of course, not what she expected, but instead what the knowing viewer not so secretly hoped for: a sex thriller murder mystery announced by the sudden arrival of the brooding nymphet daughter of Rampling’s publisher, who immediately sets into play a slow-motion and ambiguous rivalry with the older woman. As the mysterious daughter, Ozon regular Ludivine Sagnier injects a searching energy into the story as she gradually challenges Rampling to unleash her inhibitions, promising to reveal dark secrets of a buried crime that appeal to the writer’s cherished demons and the viewer’s darkest curiosity.

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