But the sudden arrival of Julie (Ludivine Sagnier), her publisher’s French daughter, ensures that work and rest are absolutely out of the question.
Swimming Pool 7.5
eyelights: the performances. the mystery. the twist.
eyesores: its lack of build-up.
“When someone keeps an entire part of their life secret from you, it’s fascinating and frightening.”
Sarah Morton is a British mystery novel writer who is frustrated with her career; though she wants to write something aside for her popular Inspector Doorwell books, she feels that her other efforts haven’t been well received.
To inspire her, her publisher sends her to his summer cottage in France. The tranquility soothes her and she soon feels the spark again. Then, one evening, Julie, her publisher’s estranged daughter, unexpectedly moves in for the summer.
Though at first she’s irritated by the disturbance, Sarah’s writing soon blossoms; she begins to write about her spunky, sexy housemate. Pleased with this turn of events, she becomes intrigued by Julie and begins to befriend her.
And then tragedy strikes…
‘Swimming Pool’ is François Ozon’s follow-up to ‘8 femmes‘. Starring Charlotte Rampling as Sarah, and Ludivine Sagnier as Julie, it’s a mysterious motion picture that requires audiences to reconsider -if not rewatch- it to understand it.
It’s a quiet picture that, at first, seems like not much at all: it begins with a miserable Sarah as she contemplates her life in solitude, adds a bit of tension when Julie shows up, and then releases that tension as they become friends.
It’s all about immersing ourselves in these moment, as the writer observes her environment, the people in it, lets her curiosity build and her imagination percolate. It’s an atmospheric picture, set in nature, near a small French village.
Even the third act’s sudden turn isn’t all that dramatic for some reason. ‘Swimming Pool’ feels like a sleepy Sunday afternoon movie the whole way through; a good, but wholly unremarkable picture, that will barely linger in one’s memory.
Then comes the finale, which is ambiguous enough that it has left viewers wondering ever since. Just recently, a friend told me that she needed to see it again to make sense of it. After seeing it twice, I’m not even 100% sure that I get it.
So there’s more to ‘Swimming Pool’ than meets the eye.
The performances are solid. Though Sagnier plays an immature character, and it’s hard to know if her petulance is the character’s or the actress’, Rampling is amazing as Sarah – she slowly transitions from moody to self-contended with ease.
What’s interesting about the film is that some of the characterizations may feel awkward at times, but it completely makes sense when you get to the end; everything that seems unusual is calculated by Ozon and justified in his reveal.
‘Swimming Pool’ is a motion picture that’s best watched without any preconceptions, without knowing too much about it. Though it sells itself with sex, and it is indeed sexy, its strengths are the performances and the mystery buried in it.
It’s worth diving into.
Date of viewing: March 24, 2017