Swimming Pool Review

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by Phil Hinton Jan 1, 2004 at 12:00 AM

    Swimming Pool Review
    Director Francois Ozon's first English language production, Swimming Pool is an inspirational thriller which while slowly paced, has all the wicked plot twists you could hope for. The story starts in London with Crime writer Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling) struggling with boredom and writers block. Sarah's previous novels have made her Publisher a rich man and fearing she may not bring in the latest Inspector Dorwell story anytime soon, he offers her a break at his French estate.

    Arriving at the quiet house in the French country side does the trick for Sarah and she soon gets the inspiration to start working again. However this peace and quiet is soon interrupted by the surprise arrival of her publishers' sexy and mysterious daughter Julie (Ludivine Sagnier). The two get off on the wrong foot and Sarah is constantly interrupted by Julies never ending one night stands and romping naked on the settee and in the swimming pool. But instead of getting more uptight and angry with Julie, Sarah starts to become more interested in who Julie actually is and why she behaves like she does. Soon Dorwell is forgotten about and Sarah starts constructing another story, but she never discusses the novel until it's finished. But is everything what it appears to be? And who exactly is Julie?

    Ozon loves his slow artful camera moves and his meandering pace may put many off, however his direction works beautifully with the story and stunning French scenery. Some of the subtle plot lines may pass you by on first viewing, if you are not entirely focussed on what's happening, but even if your mind wanders the final plot twist will have the desired effect. Swimming Pool is the type of movie which might confuse but it will still be on your mind several days after viewing. It is certainly not a think piece but the final third is open to the viewers' interpretation and has sparked many a debate in the internet chat rooms and forums.

    The characters may appear to be stereotypes but both actresses manage to bring them to life with excellent performances. Rampling looks good and brings a real sense of reality to the character of Sarah, an uptight single fifty something with very old fashioned views. Sagnier is also first class bringing life to the misguided young woman who must live life but is a dark and complex character.

    If you don't like full frontal nudity then you may not enjoy the fact that Julie spends a large degree of the movie with very little clothing on and there are a few explicit sex scenes. However these are never titillating in nature and certainly don't detract from the story; indeed Julies' actions are that of a complex young woman and important to the narrative. I enjoyed Swimming Pool finding it a pleasant distraction from the usual Hollywood blockbuster fair and it's the first movie in a long time that has made me want to watch it more than once. Highly recommended.

    The Rundown

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