Preview by: Jack Foley
FOLLOWING on from his acclaimed 8 Women,
starring a host of French divas, the prolific Gallic helmer, François
Ozon's tackles his first English-language film and sixth feature
- Swimming Pool.
Interpreted by his two favourite actresses, Charlotte Rampling
(Sous le Sable) and new French darling, Ludivine Sagnier, (Water
Drops on Burning Rocks, 8 Women), this is François Ozon's
first film to compete for the Palme d'Or in Cannes.
Swimming Pool tells the story of Sarah Morton, an uptight British
crime novelist suffering from a bout of writer's block, who retreats
to her editor John's (Charles Dance) villa, in the South of France
to seek inspiration.
The explosive arrival of the sexy and promiscuous Julie (John's
daughter) played by Sagnier, is to seriously shake up the tranquil
According to the official Cannes website, Swimming Pool is an
ambiguous and malevolent thriller, confirming Ozon's penchant
for psychological crime dramas and his love of actresses.
He told the festival: "I wanted to make a film in complete
contrast to 8 Women, which was quite a difficult project.
"With Swimming Pool I was looking to rediscover the joys
of filming simply, with some of my favourite actors.
"I like the idea of working in an enclosed space, it enables
me to watch my actors as if I was a scientist experimenting on
Of its attractive two stars, the older, Rampling, said that the
hotly-tipped Sagnier reminded her 'of myself at her age, when
I was starting out in the business'.
"She possesses the same sincerity, the same intelligence,
the same desire to be a part of the world of cinema," she
While Sagnier, herself, said of her character: "Julie is
far different from my character in 8 Women.
"We used virtually all the tricks that cinema has to offer,
and I devoted a great deal of work on physical creation.
"With François, we thought of creating the typical
stereotype of the Southern bimbo the complete opposite
of Sarah. I like this type of exercise, that of being a doll that
you dress up and make up, until you no longer recognize me."
The film is due for a UK release later this year.
The film opened in the US alongside Terminator 3, but generated
some glowing reviews.
Leading the way is Rolling Stone, which felt that 'it's
Sagnier, a young Bardot, who lifts the movie, and Rampling, 58,
who gives it nuance, not to mention a nude scene that shows off
a body Demi Moore would envy'.
Variety referred to it as 'a sophisticated, unpredictable
mystery', while the New York Times felt that it 'lingers
in your senses and plays tricks with your memory'.
Entertainment Weekly, meanwhile, raved that 'the narrative
logic of Swimming Pool slips through our hands like cool water,
shimmery and light-dappled, leaving behind the pleasures of summer
heat and goose bumps'.
The Hollywood Reporter felt that the film 'stands as the
filmmaker's most satisfying and contained work to date', while
the Boston Globe felt that 'Swimming Pool is a lark of
a thriller, and a mesmerizing one at that'.
The San Francisco Chronicle, meanwhile, wrote that 'whether
through manipulation or skilled filmmaking, Swimming Pool mesmerizes
long after the movie is over'.
And the Los Angeles Times said that it 'begins as one
kind of film then stealthily mutates into something else'.
The New York Post wrote that it is 'sexy, elegantly crafted
but deliberately abstruse', and the Los Angeles Daily News
felt that it 'works well enough as a stylish bit of titillation
as well as a showcase for its two marvelous actresses'.
The Chicago Sun-Times urged people to see it, saying that
'a film like this must be allowed to have its way with you', while
the New York Daily News wrote that 'whether the movie leaves
you confused or angry, you will be stimulated to long discussion
afterward. How often does that happen these days?'
The Washington Post said that "[the tension] grows
by increments, until you realize the movie, in its quiet way,
has you snared entirely'.
And, finally, the USA Today, wrote that 'with a little
sex, some mystery, a little sex, an appealing title and a little
sex, France's Swimming Pool has what it takes to become an art
house audience magnet'.