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.
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