Sexual intrigue is taken to the next level with Swimming Pool, a deliciously successful psychological thriller that slowly draws you in and then makes you think.
François Ozon directs this beautiful film, capturing the seduction and obsession of the story without ever revealing the true purpose until the very end. Ozon's methodical yet subtle approach to filmmaking - with rich, vivid color, no less - works perfectly for the story, suggesting that something is happening or is going to occur while very rarely clueing you into what is actually going on. His intense focus on the movie's beauty, Ludivine Sagnier, is breathtaking; the camera rolls over her like a man's eyes would, though at the same time is making it clear that there is more than what appears. Sex vibrates from Ms. Sagnier, while the sideways glances of the lead, Charlotte Rampling, provide the tension.
To make things more clear, Swimming Pool is about a struggling murder mystery author, Sarah Morton (Rampling), who has traveled to her editor's summer home in France to write something fresh and meaningful. Her writing ability becomes threatened when her editor's vivacious daughter, Julie (Sagnier), shows up. Julie, when she is not having sex with random men, enjoys walking around in skimpy bikinis or nothing at all. While Sarah is at first frustrated by the nuisance that Julie is, something about the girl intrigues her and leads her to befriend her. Though sexually tempting, there is something going on with Julie that arouses Sarah's curiosity.
Swimming Pool is a well-crafted film with huge psychological elements, lots of nudity and sex and some plot developments and/or twists that are guaranteed to baffle, or at least stimulate the mind. The script and acting are good, the directing is excellent, and Ms. Sagnier is extremely successful. Ms. Rampling isn't bad-looking for a person older than my parents.
There are a few moments where the movie stumbles, especially in the beginning. Rampling's character doesn't speak much for the first half hour, and when she does some things sound a bit awkward. Some of her glances and reaction to things are a bit strange, and a bit unbelievable. Nevertheless…
One of the year's Top 15 films is Swimming Pool, which is guaranteed to intrigue and seduce even the most critical fans of the genre. The ending is though-provoking and makes the movie what it is.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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