2003 - R - 102 Mins.
|Director: François Ozon
|Producer: Timothy Burrill, Olivier Delbosc, Marc Missonnier
|Written By: François Ozon, Emmanuèle Bernheim
|Starring: Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier, Charles Dance,
Marc Fayolle, Jean-Marie Lamour
|Review by: David Trier
Just because it’s in English, doesn’t mean it isn’t irrepressibly French.
When Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling), a famous but unsatisfied British mystery novelist, takes holiday in her publisher’s French summer home, she plans on getting some good writing done. But when his daughter Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) arrives, their lifestyles soon clash. But after a series of topless encounters, one violent act may bring them together… if indeed any of this crap actually happened… of which no one seems entirely sure.
The tagline for this film is, “Dive into this summer’s sexiest mystery.” And while parts of it are sure to make men guilty of statutory thought crimes, it’s a bit of a stretch to call this film a mystery. “Mystery” implies that the audience will take part in solving some crime or spotting some criminal. But we always know who’s guilty of what in this film. The only mystery is whether or not the story took place in our protagonist’s imagination. Seems like a bit of a rip-off to me.
Movie geeks around the globe will be pondering the ending all the way to the movie theater parking lot, where they are likely to forget the film altogether. Writer/director Francois Ozon makes a common mistake with Swimming Pool. “Confusing” is not the same thing as “mysterious”. And it’s a shame because many of the elements are there for a good mystery: a cryptic mystery novelist, a passionate young woman, a series of strange men and a genuinely mysterious locale.
Rampling’s performance is strong and subtle, even though her character leaves much to be desired. I think Sagnier might also be a good actress, but it’s hard not to be blinded by her often-present master-class breasts. Supporters Charles Dance and Jean-Marie Lamour both deliver strong believable performances. And there are some funny moments, however inadvertent, due to tiny European swimwear for men.
Swimming Pool is a slow movie until the very end, but it does maintain audience interest with the promise that there will be some great mystery that is unfortunately never delivered. But the acting, cinematography and setting are all up to par, making it a reasonably compelling waste of time.