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5x2 (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of featurette. Additional scenes. Photo gallery.

IN RECENT years, French film-maker François Ozon has proved himself to be a diverse and frequently interesting director.

His colourful 8 Women was a visually extravagant murder-mystery-cum-musical which featured some of the leading actresses in French cinema, while the more recent Swimming Pool, was an intimate, sexy psychological thriller that contained plenty of well-hidden secrets.

His latest, 5x2, is more intimate still, focusing on the deteriorating marriage of an attractive couple and the key moments which may have led to the break-up.

Yet as intriguing as this dissection of modern relationships becomes, the film is a curiously cold affair that is likely to leave viewers feeling strangely distanced from it.

For Ozon, the challenge was to 'take another look at love from the vantage point of my current experience, without getting bogged down in explanations'.

Hence, the challenge for audiences comes in forming their own opinions of it, without ever being force-fed by the director.

Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Stéphane Freiss star as the married couple in question, Marion and Gilles, whose tale unfolds in reverse.

The film opens in a courtroom, as a lawyer reads out the terms of their divorce, and ends with a scene depicting how the couple first became attracted to each other.

The scenes inbetween take in an unhappy dinner party, the birth of the couple's only son, and their wedding.

Yet it quickly becomes clear that neither lover is a saint and that the relationship was built on deceit and cowardice from the outset.

Gilles first became attracted to Marion while on holiday with another girlfriend, while Marion was unfaithful on her wedding night.

It's this, as much as anything, that makes them difficult to sympathise with and which makes the film so hard to like.

Ozon does, however, draw great performances from both leads and proves, yet again, that he is capable of delivering well-written roles for women (as Tedeschi, especially, shines).

He also delivers a far more sexy and candid examination of modern relationships than Michael Winterbottom's over-hyped 9 Songs.

It's just that audiences might find the experience a little too discomforting to justify spending that much time with it.

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