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Overall Rating

Awesome: 28.1%
Worth A Look35.54%
Average: 8.26%
Pretty Bad: 19.83%
Total Crap: 8.26%

5 reviews, 91 user ratings

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Swimming Pool
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Greg Muskewitz

"When the pool is more boundless than the sea."
5 stars

Perhaps my director of the moment, the ever-increasing showcaser of talented actresses, François Ozon crosses into English-language territory (predominantly spoken with some French) with his two favorite actresses, Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier.

Rampling is Sarah Morton, English author of a potboiler investigation series with Inspector Dorwell (sample title, “Dorwell Wears a Kilt”) who is presently suffering from writer’s block and feels neglected by her publisher. (“Awards are like hemorrhoids: sooner or later every asshole gets one.”) To remedy her predicament, her publisher offers his flat in the south of France for peace, respite and inspiration, and her work takes off from the get-go. Sooner than she prefers, the tarp of the estate’s pool is torn off — physically and metaphorically — when the publisher’s sexually aggressive daughter Julie unexpected shows up with an entourage of a new man every night. Cranky and uptight, Sarah balks and the two femmes initially square off in the battleground. But then her writer’s instinct kicks in and Sarah has discovered a new source of inspiration, with the psychological aspect displaying how far it can lead and what happens when it is dried up.

The film has its share of secrets, which it keeps safely locked up, particularly the ending and the necessity to re-examine and re-evaluate all that came before it. Ozon has long shown an interest in his characters’ psychology, especially how it pertains to their sexuality. Females have come to dominate his films (exclusively Rampling in Under the Sand, the cast of his last, tendentiously titled 8 Women) and Ozon has become a darker French version of Pedro Almodóvar, but the trick of Swimming Pool relates specifically to the shifting and ambiguous identity of his two characters. The method of storytelling is revelatory and relevant to the palpable extent of what we observe from Sarah’s character. Fantasy and reality are at work together, and at the film’s opening when Sarah is blatantly identified on a metro, she tells the woman, “You must have mistaken me with someone else. I’m not the person you think I am.”

As the conflict between Sarah and Julie arouses intensification (hints of sexual jealousy are dropped), the older woman comes around to adopting the younger’s psychology and actions are done with the intention of their effect. Ozon approaches the film as an antithesis, or a slick blender, to conventional film noir through the vivid colors, extensive sunlight, not to mention the nude tan of Sagnier. The obvious dimensions are still there — smoke-filled rooms, shaded blinds, etc. What’s unexpected is the generosity of humor and levity, Rampling’s stiff dancing to techno music, her sexual awakening, her decided competitiveness against Sagnier. The two actresses take a lot of risks and rightfully so — Ozon is responsible for Rampling’s career revival (Sand) and Sagnier’s discovery (Water Drops on Burning Rocks, 8 Women), and both do not disappoint for him or for the film. Much has been made of the nudity seeing as how both actresses bare quite a lot of flesh, and both look stunning for their respective ages. Rampling’s and Sagnier’s talent is unquestionably there from the start, and as time quickly tells, Ozon’s judgment in the capability of their chemistry is right on.

Likewise, he continues his intriguing examination not only psychologically, but the impact of closed-in locales. Generally, such might seem restrictive (a big issue in Burning Rocks), but his evolving maturity as a writer as well as a director, and his reliance on his own scripts have proved to be vast in space and taut. Ozon also proves, like German filmmaker Tom Tykwer did last year with Heaven, that the bid to expand beyond one’s native tongue does not automatically result in American/commercial selling out — backed further in the decision of both to retain their foreign counterpart crew. Even though the film lacks a definitive resolution, it provocatively satisfies in the same way Lynch’s Mulholland Drive did. (Similarly, Ozon triggers Lynchian touches with his use of dwarf Mireille Mossé.) And in leaving it open-ended, he grants room for much interpretation and discussion; it can be staggeringly sexy and complicated at the same time. Seemingly (water being another Ozon motif), the pool appears to be more boundless than the sea.

[Absolutely to be seen.]

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originally posted: 12/28/03 22:02:39
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/12/16 Johnb274 you have a terrific blog here! would you like to make some invite posts on my weblog? aeaeg 5 stars
7/11/16 Johnc0 I really appreciate this post. I have been looking everywhere for this! Thank goodness I fo 5 stars
1/14/11 WYNN What a great site. Very impressive!!! Your site is an Internet resource. I'd like to put a 5 stars
9/29/10 aryan so nice 1 stars
12/31/09 name comment6, 4 stars
9/15/09 alexk570 Very nice site! 5 stars
1/15/07 David Pollastrini Ludivine Sagnier is hot! 4 stars
12/19/06 Charles Tatum Sagnier is a joy to look at 3 stars
12/04/06 Lynne Intriging but found the ending unsatisfying. 4 stars
6/27/06 popy xxx 5 stars
5/20/06 anil gurung it is fantastic 5 stars
12/19/05 Bree This movie looked so cool and was very disappointed. Ending was okay though. 2 stars
10/11/05 Morten A movie that demands action from the viewer (needs to be interoperated to make sense). 5 stars
8/09/05 kristen interesting film 4 stars
8/01/05 candence I got sucked in because it looked interesting but the ending gave NO closure! MEANINGLESS! 1 stars
5/27/05 mike sexy chick, captivating story 4 stars
5/26/05 Michael H. Korman Great movie, the performances are fabuous, the ending twists into what? 5 stars
4/30/05 Eleanor Pretending to be smart. But does't change the fact that it's crap. 1 stars
2/05/05 Cyn A. Matique Great story, great cinematography, and tons of female full frontal nudity...a must see! 5 stars
10/17/04 Pollo Good photography, boring movie, interesting final. 3 stars
10/11/04 Jim very good 4 stars
9/20/04 denny interesting; challenging 4 stars
9/20/04 Andy deGaust Excellent, thought provoking story line 5 stars
8/31/04 Jeff The ending cheats you out of what would otherwise be a nice movie-watching experience 1 stars
7/27/04 humpa very intriguing 5 stars
7/27/04 Lisa Lussier I liked it a lot 4 stars
7/19/04 Phil M. Aficionado It's pretty bad, actually, bad pacing, unbelievable plot twists. But Rampling is great. 3 stars
7/14/04 The More You Know everytime it's about to induce a coma, it flashes skin w/ the hyperbare-it shots. 3 stars
7/09/04 fanboy malcolm i didn't get it. probly deserves a 2nd look. lotsa nudity is always good though. 2 stars
6/14/04 XTC Over-rated Hollywood crap. The sight of Charlotte Rampling naked made me sick. 2 stars
5/14/04 Lori makes most people who watch it feel stupid at the end. Id like to bitchslap the WRITER 2 stars
4/21/04 someone it sucks 1 stars
4/11/04 Wildcarde1 I had heard so much and was expecting something special, i never got it 2 stars
3/26/04 morgan hayes Glorious,the best film i've seen this year. 5 stars
3/25/04 William Greene Excellent movie 5 stars
3/20/04 Candice Heath didn't understand the end! 4 stars
3/17/04 lodger16 slow, snobbishly overclever 3 stars
2/19/04 TheRealDude Bullshit Bullshit Bullshit. The last 2 minutes ruin a good film. 2 stars
2/07/04 Mike Ennis I liked the film, I just wish the ending would have been a little more complete. 4 stars
1/26/04 twodogs It's a better than average indy movie. 3 stars
1/25/04 Jason Entertaining, interesting story, well written, and some very nice nude shots of sagnier 4 stars
1/15/04 Betty White Rampling is powerful and convincing in this lavish film. 5 stars
12/30/03 helen delicious 5 stars
12/29/03 y2mckay Don't think I can say it much better than Childress - though that Sagnier has fine titties 2 stars
11/25/03 The Dude Meandering, pompus. 2 stars
10/25/03 Richard M. Cooper This film provoked good discussions. 4 stars
10/21/03 Rebecca what a special movie; hot! 5 stars
10/13/03 Helen Bradley Great acting and script. 5 stars
9/08/03 Bill Teommey Would you bury the body in your own back yard? 1 stars
9/05/03 Darlene Groetz Deux zombies des baguette tragique qui assassinent et couvrent le crime. Fort bien! 1 stars
9/02/03 Carl Huber Messes with your mind, figuring out what is meant to be "real". 4 stars
9/01/03 whatever i didnt get it AT ALL!!! 1 stars
8/30/03 Elias Copularus see this movie 4 stars
8/26/03 Amanda and Jovan Intriguing and stimulating to the mind and erotic senses! 5 stars
8/26/03 Bill Geftman I dont get the ending. others who viewed this movie were also confused. 3 stars
8/21/03 Priscilla Postlethwaite Would-be who-dun-it in search of an it. 2 stars
8/21/03 Jin This film will raise your bp and open your mind. 5 stars
8/20/03 Wayne Provocative ending. Was Julie real or imagined? 4 stars
8/20/03 Suzanne Sexy, thought provoking 5 stars
8/19/03 Charlotte Voyeuristic, good summer puzzle but little real substance 3 stars
8/16/03 tk made me think and made me horny...what else would you want? 5 stars
8/12/03 Kelly Was Julie for real? Did John really have two daughters? 4 stars
8/12/03 shelley stults i feel asleep 3 stars
8/11/03 Varun Subtle, yet satisfying 4 stars
8/11/03 Bill Halsey I thought of David Lynch 5 stars
8/11/03 aimee auby the ending made me think 4 stars
8/09/03 UnkleTim I love when I am still thinking of a movie days after I have seen it. This is one . 4 stars
8/09/03 jc i liked it 4 stars
8/09/03 Holly Beach I agree w/Patrik; bring your brains; it's not about the "plot" 5 stars
8/07/03 Rebecca Keeshen Beautiful film; loved the performances 4 stars
8/06/03 Johann Lots of sex, lots of tension, but promises made that were never fulfilled. 4 stars
8/05/03 Ishkabibble Slow, dull and boring. Was there really a mystery in there? 1 stars
8/04/03 Winston Beautiful girl makes the movie HAPPEN. 5 stars
8/04/03 Alan A bit slow at times but worth it in the end 4 stars
8/03/03 JD Boudacious Tah-tahs 3 stars
8/03/03 Charles Nettles It's a hoax. 1 stars
7/30/03 amir I enjoyed the film immensly here in Washington, D.C. I am curious, who sings the disco "Do 5 stars
7/29/03 Jean Perrin Twists and turns, Hitchcockian in tone 4 stars
7/29/03 Patrik Americans are too dumb to understand what this movie is about..... 5 stars
7/28/03 c.g Not bad 4 stars
7/28/03 bama didn't like the "say wha?" ending - other than that - excellent 4 stars
7/27/03 Kirsty Excellent, definitely worth watching, not stupid Hollywood, makes you THINK 5 stars
7/27/03 Linda Puzzling but fun. see with friends & decipher over dinner! 4 stars
7/17/03 MC it was good. kinda show, but worth the plot twists. 4 stars
7/16/03 Emperor's New Clothes Pfft. The French think they are sooo witty. Creme Brulee for the eyes. I hate Creme Brulee. 2 stars
7/13/03 Andrew like memento, there are many ways of interpreting the ending. see it. 4 stars
7/11/03 Jesus Relaxed but also disturbing in a believable fashin. Camera work is great. 4 stars
7/08/03 amanda Trailer was promising, but the film was disappointing and confusing. Missed the mark. 2 stars
7/07/03 bernieK Luxuriously sensual, slow paced. A wonderful summer adult film when so little is available. 4 stars
7/07/03 Lisa intelligent, fun, will make you rethink the film over and over 5 stars
7/06/03 rue the whirl cinematic masturbation. bring hand lotion. hbs sucks, too...heehee 2 stars
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  02-Jul-2003 (R)
  DVD: 13-Jan-2004



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