|Index||3 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After having seen last week the 2016 "Frantz" I continued yesterday my
(François) Ozon cure with "The Double Lover" (or "L'amant double" in
original) the latest film of the French director, a film that was
present also in the 2017 competition at the Cannes festival. Both
movies deal with issues of identity, truth and deception and how these
can impact relationships between men and women. This is were
similarities stop. There are many differences and almost all in favor
of the 2016 film.
The story which is 'freely' inspired by a novel by Joyce Carol Oates (which has already originated a movie by David Cronenberg) starts as the story about a relationship between a psychoanalyst and his patient that turns into a strange and uneasy love affair. While the relation between shrink and patient needs to be based on trust and truth, in this case the contrary happens, as each of the two characters avoids fully sharing their feelings, hides things from the past, speaks half truths or plain lies. They seem that they cannot work as a couple on any plan. The bad start of the relation develops to worse and the odd things that happen on screen are complicated by having them told in a mix of genres - French art film with Paris and a museum of disturbing modern art as background, erotic thriller, horror and guilt in the Hitchcock and Polanski traditions. All these get together in a 'bouillion' that becomes less and less credible, up to the point that the story cannot be solved but by explaining that all was some kind of dementia delirium with very prosaic physiological roots. What should have been a sophisticated game of mirrors becomes a multiplication of images by mirrors disposed in a chaotic manner. To make things worse, the ending makes the mistake of explaining too much in sordid details. Hard to believe that the film with this ending comes in the filmography of Ozon just after "Frantz" with the wonderful ambiguity of its open ending.
Acting is also problematic. Ozon's choice of actors seems sometimes odd (not only here) because they are characters that do not feel well in their own skins. In this case he chose Marine Vacth (his discovery in "Young & Beautiful ") for a role that needs more expressiveness and fragility than what the actress delivered on screen. There is no chemistry between her and either of the two selves (or twin brothers) played by Jérémie Renier . I will never complain about seeing again Jacqueline Bisset in a film and I appreciate Ozon's creating in every film of his strong and interesting feminine characters that break the stereotypes, but her role or maybe roles (another odd double) seem to be wasted talent here.
"The Double Lover" never reaches at cinematographic level its ambitions. The jury at Cannes 2017 deserves an award for not giving - despite the names of the director and the cast - any award to this movie.
One reason I'd like to see 'L'Amant Double' for a second time, is just
to count the number of scenes featuring mirrors. A rough estimate:
somewhere between twenty and thirty. Sometimes there are two or three
mirror scenes in a time span of just a few minutes. A few of them
really stand out in a cinematographic way. In one scene, we see a
conversation between two people, but it seems as if they are talking to
each other's mirror image: they are never shown talking directly to
The symbolism of it all is clear. In 'L'Amant Double', lead character Chloé is in love with twin brothers. At least, that's what she thinks. And that's what we think. Unless the twins are really two sides of the same personality. But two sides of which personality exactly? His, or a projection of hers? What is real, what is imagined? Director François Ozon plays the game of mirrors perfectly, and keeps it up until the very end. When you think it's all clear, there are still some strange things. Which one of the twin brothers was the smoker again?
The film is very stylish. Ozon has made the most of the locations. In the museum where Chloé works as a guard, outrageous art is being exposed. It's a perfect backdrop for some visually beautiful scenes. The clothing, the hairdo's, the furniture: everything is done in the best of Parisian tastes.
There's much to enjoy in 'L'Amant Double', for different kinds of moviegoers. It is a thriller of some sorts, with the suspense building up until the last few minutes. It's also a psychological drama, with lots of twists and turns. And in the very end, there's even a little bit of horror. But overall, this is a very French film, with some kinky scenes and a nice amount of Parisian elegance.
Good movie in the general tradition of Shutter Island and Black Swan. The film never seems to decide if it wants to work out a story or build up suspense. It's neither a thriller or a drama. Yet I enjoyed watching it. Acting by the two main actors is excellent. There's quite some open eroticism in the French style but always matched to the story. Towards the end I was moved. Worth checking out.
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