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"Swimming Pool" Review


Title: Swimming Pool

Starring: Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier, Charles Dance, Jean-Marie Lamour, Mireille Mosse

Written by: Francois Ozon, Emmanuelle Bernheim

Directed by: Francois Ozon

Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language, some violence and drug use.

Review by Stephen Silver

A taut combination of Kubrick and Hitchcock- with a dash of David Lynch tossed in- Francois Ozon's "Swimming Pool" is a fascinating film that concludes with a wild, thought-provoking ending.

Filmed in France by the French director's first English-language film, "Swimming Pool" stars Charlotte Rampling as Sarah Martin, a successful, middle-aged British mystery novelist who takes up her publisher (Charles Dance) on his offer to stay at his vacation house in the South of France while she works on her next book. But soon she's joined by an unannounced guest- Dance's nubile French daughter Julie (Ludivine Sagnier), a Kournikova-lookalike who lounges around the house nude or topless, brings home numerous suitors for sex, and takes long swims in the house's pool, untouched until then by Sarah.

The plot follows the relationship between the two women, alternating between friendship and hostility, until an unlikely series of events throws the story into ever-expanding chaos. One of the best things about the film is that it switches genres several times- going from leasurely drama to tense thriller to a whole other direction at the end.

That ending, like David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive" and many other movies before it, will leave many guessing the true meaning, while others will simply be left scratching their heads. But it's only one major twist, it isn't totally nonsensical, and upon enough reflection (much like 'Mulholland') there is one explanation that makes sense above all others. Indeed, the appearance of a dwarf seems almost like a signpost that the plot is about to take a Lynchian turn.

The actresses hit every turn just right- the veteran Rampling nails every one of her character's twists and Sagnier brings a lot more creativity to the role then, say, Tara Reid would've. It's hard to notice her acting when she's walking around topless for half the film, but she somehow pulls it off.

America may not be too high on the French these days, but one thing they've always been good at is sexy, avant-garde films- of which "Swimming Pool" is the best in recent memory.

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