Swimming Pool (2003)

DVD Cover (Focus Features Unrated Version)
François Ozon François Ozon
Charlotte Rampling Charlotte Rampling
Ludivine Sagnier Ludivine Sagnier
Charles Dance Charles Dance
Jean-Marie Lamour Jean-Marie Lamour
Marc Fayolle Marc Fayolle

6.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Erotic Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Thriller
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: July 02, 2005
For those movie fans who love psychological thrillers, Swimming Pool will be the perfect summer film to go see. There is a lot of mystery and sexual intrigue to support this fascinating English language film by French director François Ozon who also made the highly psychologically themed Under the Sand. Instead of lots of scary tricks to made the audience jump in their seats, Swimming Pool slowly unravels to make you think and try to figure out what is really happening and how this story is going to end.

A highly successful mystery novel writer named Sarah Morton (acted wonderfully by Charlotte Rampling who is just as brilliant as she was in Under the Sand) is having writer's block and seems to be burned out about writing another installment of her series of crime novels. Her publisher suggests that she go to France and stay at his house in the country in order to get some peace and quiet and hopefully get some inspiration for her next book at the same time. When Sarah arrives, the weather is beautiful, the wind is blowing through the trees, and there is even a secluded swimming pool on the grounds.

However, one night soon after her arrival, the publisher's rebellious teenage daughter Julie (also played magnificently by Ludivine Sagnier) arrives at the house where she intends to stay and share with Sarah. Soon, Julie is ruining the peace that Sarah craves for by bringing home strange men every night and keeping Sarah awake with her sexual interludes. Sure enough, disturbing events ensue and the relationship between Sarah and Julie slowly seems to change as the writer seems to get more inspired with the more she learns from Julie and from the things that happen and from the things that she finds out.

This film is somewhat difficult to write about without giving plot details away but suffice to say, this film embodies the old saying "things are not as they seem". There are hints and clues throughout the film on what is going on between this older, conservative writer and this young, sexually charged teenager. Swimming Pool is not a fast-paced motion picture, but it has a mesmerizing quality that draws the audience into the story and which many times will show things that make you do a double take and say "huh?" Ozon seems to love making films where the mind is more important than the physical and this film, just like with Under the Sand, is a showcase of psychological study.

To make this film work, it's imperative that the acting is brilliant and real. And with Charlotte Rampling in the lead role, I can't think of another actress who could play this part so well. Much of the time it is not what she says or how she says something, but it is just the look that she gives or the body language that says so much. Ozon lets the camera focus for long drawn out moments on Rampling and this adds so much to the eerie feel of the film. And Sagnier is just about perfect as the sexually charged, rebellious teenager and seems to be half-nude or completely undressed for most of the film. But she doesn't overplay the role and makes this character so real and believable.

I love the haunting and deliberate style of this film. I believe that one must see this film at least twice and probably more in order to fully understand and grasp all the differences between reality and fantasy that seems to permeate this film. There are hints of lesbianism as well as role-reversals between the two female characters which forces the audience to think even more about what these two people are plotting and thinking about. And these are just two elements of what I'm figuring out from one viewing of this film.

Seeing films like this always make me think that these are the types of stories that Alfred Hitchcock would be making today if he was still alive. Go see this film before you learn about the ending plot twist and be wary of reviews which will give away the ending. It will be a much more rewarding movie outing if you experience the film without knowing what is coming at the end. And I'm predicting that even after you see the ending, you will want to go back and see the film again for all the subtle clues and hints that abound.

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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 05/05/2008, 07:14 PM
I had no idea we had this on here. I saw this when it came out, and loved it. Charlotte Rampling's performance was amazing, and the ending was one of the most memorable in past years. I really will have to hunt this one down again. 9/10
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