A Film Review By Jason L. King
|Rating: Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language, some violence and drug use
Starring: Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier, Charles Dance
Directed By:Francios Ozon
As a writer myself, I have learned that the most important thing you can do is get the audience hooked right from the beginning. As a film critic, I never seem to accomplish that although I have tried many a times. None the less, a good story is one of the many components that make a story so much fun to watch. But when you tie a good story in with a nice set of twists that leaves the audience in awe, that’s when you know that you have created a winner. I have never been able to do that, but after watching Swimming Pool, I know that director Francios Ozon is perfectly capable of such a feat.
Sarah Morton is an aging detective fiction author. Her stories have wowed audiences for years, and her publisher John is wants to make sure that she keeps making books and he keeps making cash. But after years and years of writing the same series Sarah wants to try and do something new. Her publisher, John suggests she take some time for a retreat to his summer home in France, giving her time to focus on her writing. Sarah does so and all is going well until one night Sarah awakens to John’s daughter, Julie, coming home. Sarah and Julie don’t see eye to eye in their lifestyles but Julie just might be the just the right character for Sarah’s latest writing endeavor.
First off, I will begin by saying the director is French. Therefore the Mike was not very keen on watching it, and still hasn’t to this day. Mike for some reason does not like the French, maybe it is because of the painfully dull semesters of learning the French language. But besides the French language that Mike can not figure out, the French have been known for certain characteristics in cinema. Swimming Pool is no different. There is a wide variety of cinematic moments in the film that will make a person who truly appreciates art films want to stand up and cheer. The film is well shot, and has a style to it unlike anything I have ever seen. The plot is slow moving enough to make you think that nothing to exciting is going to happen, yet tugs at your mind, trying to get you to guess just what will happen next. For those of you not interested in any of the above reasons for watching Swimming Pool, I’ll now appeal to you by saying it has a lot of female nudity in it, yet another aspect that is oh so common in French Cinema….
Now that I have appealed to both audiences, the art lover and the average male, and have sparked both of their interests, I think the thing I most liked about Swimming Pool was the ending. I won’t spoil it for you, because it is one of those endings you must experience for yourself, but to put it mildly, the last 2 minutes of the film changed my whole perspective on what I had just watched. The film carefully times the end scene and then violently twists the plot in such a bizarre manner at the end that it leaves you very curious as to what the ending will be. And then when the grand finale comes about you are left with a sense of wonderment, and a topic that you will be trying to unravel the entire drive home.
The acting is Solid, but nothing stands out above and beyond any one else. The director does a nice job of making sure none of the characters really outshine each other. No one steals the screen every minute they are present, instead the film is strictly more of a plot driven machine that drags the audience to the finale. Its wonderfully crafted plot does a nice job with the blatant but not recognizable symbolism the entire way through. The film is filled with symbolism and hints towards the ending, all things you will never notice until afterwards. I think it’s the subtleties that make this film worth a second watch.
I think the one thing that may be a turn off about Swimming Pool is that it is almost too slow moving. We never really see any “mystery” until the end of the film, and when the average moviegoer has a short attentions pan, they may have already given up on the flick. But for those who stay, their wait is well warranted. Also the French Style doesn’t appeal to everyone, in fact I have some people even tell me there is Too much nudity for their tastes, almost to the point where there is pointless nudity just to keep people’s eyes on the screen. While I agree that the nudity in this flick is nearing a point of excessiveness for an American film, it doesn’t surprise me that it is there. This it is in fact a French film, and the French are much more relaxed and comfortable with nudity, especially when it comes to “art” such as this film. I also think the ending may turn off a lot of people because we normally like a clear-cut answer. The director leaves it up for us to decide, which in my opinion makes watching the film a real joy.
In the end, this film has everything you could really ask for. It has a plot that is both a thriller, but not designed to scare the audience silly and it doesn’t suffer from lackluster acting, direction or special effects like the Summer Blockbusters do. In the end, this little film deserves a little more recognition and a little more thought than what it is given, and if you take the time to think about what you saw afterwards, I don’t think you will be disappointed.