As scene on 12gauge

Swimming Pool (2003)  

Francois Ozon: 8 Women, Under The Sand

You have to understand there’s a difference between seeing this movie and having sex with the girl in it. Because of this subtle but very important difference, it’s probably best to do something else with your two hours. Swimming Pool is basically what if you took an Eric Rohmer film, removed half the characters and let Dominik Mol lick the screenplay while Peter Greenaway fondled the camera crew. Then soaked it in essence of Mulholland Drive and Adaptation and finally, let Francois Ozon direct it.

Swimming Pool is about a middle-aged English writer escaping to her publisher’s summer house in the French countryside in order to find inspiration for a book. When her publisher’s beautiful young daughter shows up, the plot begins to unfold. And may still be unfolding as we speak. I have to go check it. Excuse me.

The problem with the film is its main characters aren't so compelling. Julie’s backstory only threatened at being intriguing from time to time. The film needs you to be captivated by Julie, but Ludivine Sagnier is neither as endearing as Ana Karina, as pouty as Bridgitte Bardot, as fatale as Sharon Stone, or even as French as Julie Delpy. Her body, sensational. Her acting, eh. Although some of this could be the screenplay. What about Sarah? Sarah was just a straightforward bitch. Hardly interesting. Basically how I imagine J.K. Rowling. And her publisher, Mike or John or whatever his name was? I can’t believe someone managed to create a one-dimensional character. But by God Francis Ozon did it. The next rung of characters was better. Frank the waiter was compelling but I would actually be much more interested in him outside of the film. Julie’s first boyfriend was definitely amusing with his little speedo and his pot belly attitude. Intriguing distribution of body fat, yes. Nicholas Cage, no. Gerard Depardieu? [laughter] Marcel the gardner was better than my last taxi cab driver, but not the one before him.

But the best characters in the film were the most peripheral. The little Poltergeist lady, for example, at Marcel’s house with her progeric insinuations. Actually, children born with this rare genetic disorder live to be about thirteen. This lady was just a midget. But interesting. As was Frank’s happily overweight colleague over the shop window. “Excuse me now, I have work to do.” Hmmm. I wonder what that could be? At one in the afternoon, in France. Very interesting. No, I'm not kidding. On purpose or not, and it’s not, what does that say about your film when the best characters have one or two lines? It says give them more lines. You'd think.

The New York Times says:
Mr. Ozon's gift, extended in different directions from movie to movie, is to combine low-key observational intelligence with high literary cunning. ... [Swimming Pool] is simultaneously a thoroughly mannered, mischievously artificial confection and an acute piece of psychological realism. Whose psychology, and which reality, remains ambiguous even after the tart, delicious final twist.
Idiot. The film relies on your being a lot more impressed with its plot devices than you end up being. Like Adaptation, Swimming Pool cleverly blurs the lines between fiction and ‘the movie’ but unlike Adaptation, the film is empty at its core. But how can I prove the absence of meaning? Eh.

Ozun's so-called 'observational style'—showing her plug in the laptop, mixing yogurt concoctions—is at first reassuring but without any thematic connection, it soon fizzles out. I mean, why should I be watching your observations when I could be playing with my keys or shuffling the plastic cards around in my wallet—titillating myself with 'low-key' 'deliciousness'. Anyway, the film is boring because of senseless repetition—boobs which keep just walking around not being sucked on or anything, a liquor cabinet which keeps being opened every two scenes and Charlotte Rampling’s fingers, which, nice as they are, I’ve seen enough of. If I’m going to stare at fingers, let them at least be Glenn Gould’s and let them be in ice water. Perhaps if Julie could drink coffee from a bowl, while flashing her breasts, being fisted, and smashing someone with a rock all at the same time.

As for the ending, apparently, someone forgot to tell Francois Ozon they already did that in The Usual Suspects. But that's okay because someone forgot to tell me The Usual Suspects isn't worth mentioning in this context. But rather than giving the film new meaning, the ending actually backfires and makes it all seem even less disturbing and hence, less interesting. The girl in Bob Le Flambeur was fifteen years old. Fifteen years old! What am I supposed to do with that?
and this was their dance
LS: I'm much more confident in front of a camera, hidden by a character, enhanced by makeup, so I can go much further than I can in real life. Being naked is quite a natural thing, but it's more the sexual situations. Sexual acting is painful, because even though you're pretending, you have the skin of the person in front of you, and it's not the skin you wish you had. After that you run into the shower to get rid of everything. I felt really dirty after I filmed all of this. It is difficult, but even if you're self-conscious in real life, when you're hidden behind a character you can bare much more.

PB: You mention a boyfriend. Are you one of those stars who only dates other actors?

LS: I just date people who earn a million dollars a month. [Laughs] Actually my boyfriend doesn't earn that much money. He's a stage actor, so he doesn't have a penny in his pocket, but he's the person I love.

PB: Any movie stars you'd love to work with these days?

LS: I wouldn't say "no” to a love scene with Josh Hartnett.

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