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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
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by Thom

"Rampling and Sagnier drive a fiercely provocative film"
4 stars

François Ozon’s new film Swimming Pool takes Ludivine Sagnier out of the ensemble and makes her a co-star opposite Charlotte Rampling. This the third Ozon film for the intelligent, young Parisian actress. Sagnier plays Julie who either does or doesn’t exist outside of the imagination of English crime novelist Sarah Morton, who is played to perfection by Charlotte Rampling. “I had to work very hard on this film. François gave me very little direction which helped me be like how my character Julie really was.” Her hard work pays off. If we only had young American actresses with half the brilliance and performance readiness of Ludivine Sagnier.

Hollywood is a trashy town full of experts at faking it. So when the real thing comes along and raises the bar higher than the other players can reach, what happens is that talent simply gets ignored. Ludivine is not a “star” in that she makes good media. She is a star in that her powers as an actress are palpably strong and as she matures, we will see fine, subtle performances as long as the right film projects keep finding her.

Swimming Pool takes place at a villa in the south of France. Best-selling English crime novelist Sarah Morton is sent on a working vacation by her publisher. When his daughter Julie shows up unannounced, it sends Sarah on a journey towards what she calls “her finest work yet.” While I can’t talk about how the film ends, I can say that it will radically alter your perception of the film you thought you were watching.

The ending is so jarring, so full of it’s own smoke and mirrors, that like the image of the swimming pool itself, it allows there to be as many interpretation of the movie as there are people who watch it. In one theory of “who creates the work of art, the creator or the person who experiences it,” there is a compromise position (Rosenblatt, if you actually plan on chasing the reference down) which says that the work of art is created somewhere between what the artist created and what the audience perceives. In much the same way Ozon gave Sagnier precious little direction, the audience is left to fend for themselves when the story suddenly changes in the final scenes of the film and I’m sure it will lead to a lot of post-cinema coffee house speculation.

The title of the movie comes from the supporting role the swimming pool at the villa has in the story. The swimming pool is used as a symbolic cue which can represent the unfolding of Sarah’s novel, or it can represent the friendship blooming between Julie and Sarah, or it can represent the opening up of Sarah to a part of her creative self she had yet to explore. The pool starts out covered and goes through various stages of being uncovered, cleaned and then finally fully enjoyed as the centerpiece of a summer vacation in the south of France.

Water symbolizes fertility and potentiality. It evokes the womb, the font of all life. It also represents the life force itself. In one of my various interpretations, Sarah is becoming more turned on to herself and is being slowly freed from the prison of the character that has made her a household name in England and has made her a bankable writer for her publisher. When her novel is complete, she lets her publisher know that she’s not only finished the book, but its been published by another house. The insinuation is that she prefers to be supported as an artist, and not merely as a cash cow. Her publisher was hoping for another one of her sure best-sellers. She retorts to her publisher that the new house will also in the future see titles about her beloved detective. She doesn’t hate her popular series, but it’s not all she can do nor all she wants to do as a writer and when she finally got turned on to the possibilities that her creativity and vision allowed, she naturally fled towards her savior and away from her captor.

Julie is the inspiration for Sarah’s transformation. Sarah’s encounter with Julie gives her that new storyline. Sarah embraced that new story slowly, with trepidation and even aggravation. Julie swims in the pool when it is still half-covered, a little dirty and covered in leaves. Sarah waits until the pool is completely uncovered and totally clean before she finally allows herself to venture towards the water. But when she does, she embraces the pool with a growing passion.

Julie is a trashy tart, a cogelle, which is a pejorative term for the kind of slutty, working-class southern French girl that Julie is. Julie who feels abandoned by her father and lives a rather solitary life, brings home a different man every night. I had a roommate like Julie once. A French girl from the French alps who came to America to do a lot of coke and fuck a bunch of rich guys while trying to get a visa. She had no self-respect and no center. But at the same time, she really enjoyed fucking and partying. Sarah learns a lot about her publisher through Julie and discovers that there is an entire part of his life that she knows nothing about. As Sarah learns more about Julie’s tender weaknesses and need for understanding and affection, she softens her anger and lets Julie’s summer blend with her own.

I liked the colorful cleverness of Ozon’s 8 Women but Swimming Pool is a nice return to the tone set by Under The Sand. This movie is as much about the writing process as it is about Sarah’s transformation. Julie is a static character, who, while richly drawn, beautiful, fun, sensuous and a bit dangerous, she exists to move Sarah forward. Swimming Pool is really Sarah’s story. It is an intriguing, sensual film about the difference experience makes in one’s approach to life and how the traditional inflexibility of age can give way to powerful, positive change.

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originally posted: 06/20/03 17:43:34
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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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