Emmanuele Bernheim

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5x2 Review


Very Good
François Ozon (Under the Sand, Swimming Pool) channels Ingmar Bergman rather than regular muses Alfred Hitchcock and Claude Chabrol for 5x2, the portrait of a disintegrating marriage that focuses on five key instances in the troubled couple's history. Ozon's tale is told in reverse chronologically, beginning with divorce proceedings and ending with a romantic first meeting, though unlike Gaspar Noé's similarly flip-flopped Irreversible, Ozon's narrative structure isn't simply a gimmick designed to gussy up otherwise straightforward material; rather, the upside-down construction strives to upend viewers' commonly held perceptions about the reasons why once-amorous relationships end in heartbreak. Assembled with more than a hint of repetition and, as a result, a frustrating lack of unexpected revelations, Ozon's latest peters out before its anticlimactic conclusion. Yet thanks to his sterling stars and a directorial attentiveness, the filmmaker crafts a mature portrait of a relationship's thorny complexity while coloring his domestic drama with an undercurrent of looming menace and bittersweet inevitability.

Ozon's story recounts the ill-fated union of Marion (Valerie Bruni Tedeschi) and Gilles (Stéphane Freiss), a wife and husband who, at film's start, are shown quietly finalizing their divorce in a drab office, their faces pained but stoic reflections of their relief, misery and nervousness over the end of their matrimony. Clearly indebted - in spirit if not in specifics - to Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage (including Gilles' beard, a nod to Erland Josephson's), 5x2 (before heading back in time) subsequently moves from this depressing administrative locale to a furtive, desperate motel reunion between the newly single Marion and Gilles where attempts to rekindle the sexual fire ends in physical and emotional abuse. This powerhouse confrontation finds Bruni Tedeschi and Freiss, their forlorn eyes captured in close-up, expressing without words the callous selfishness, lack of communication, and physical and emotional detachment that doomed their relationship. And the scene ignites the film with a promise of eye-opening bombshells to come about the couple's dissolution via the ensuing backwards procession through a dinner party with Gilles' brother and his lover, Gilles' injurious cowardice during the birth of his son, their drunken wedding night, and their first encounter on a tropical beach.

Continue reading: 5x2 Review

Swimming Pool Review


OK
Here's the art house version of Caddyshack, also known as "the slob versus the snob." Legendary screen diva Charlotte Rampling and fresh young thing Ludivine Sagnier play an odd couple staying at a chateau in Southern France, with Rampling playing a prim and proper British novelist pitted against Sagnier's trashy teenager. French provocateur François Ozon previously used both actresses in earlier films, and seems to get a kick out of watching them hiss at each other.

The drawn out prologue reveals Sarah Morton (Rampling) to be uninspired, having written a slew of Ruth Rendell-style mystery novels. Her publisher (Charles Dance) suggests the chateau, and Morton spends her lazy afternoons drinking in this new space. Things all go snafu when the publisher's horny daughter Julie (Sagnier) arrives. Sarah finds herself having to clean up after her new roommate, and having to spend restless nights listening to Julie screw every man in Luberon.

Continue reading: Swimming Pool Review

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Emmanuele Bernheim Movies

5x2 Movie Review

5x2 Movie Review

François Ozon (Under the Sand, Swimming Pool) channels Ingmar Bergman rather than regular muses Alfred...

Swimming Pool Movie Review

Swimming Pool Movie Review

Here's the art house version of Caddyshack, also known as "the slob versus the snob."...

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