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Dive into a mind-bending thriller that's soaked with raw sensuality! A murder-mystery author's search for inspiration takes a wicked turn when she meets a sexy and provocative young woman with an explosive past, in the movie Interview calls "A thrilling film! Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier sizzle!"
In terms of alluring female nudity, Swimming Pool shows a lot, but it's what remains concealed that gives this erotic thriller a potent, voyeuristic charge. With his Hitchcockian handling of secrets and lies, prolific French director François Ozon reunites with his Under the Sand star, Charlotte Rampling, to tell a seductive tale of murder and complicity, beginning when British mystery novelist Sarah Morton (Rampling) seeks peace and relaxation at her publisher's French villa, only to find his brash, sexually liberated daughter Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) arriving shortly thereafter to disrupt her solitary reverie. What begins as mutual annoyance turns into something more sinister and duplicitous, alternating between Julie's predatory sex with men and Sarah's observant, perhaps jealous fascination. These two women, generations apart, share in Ozon's delicate dance of trust, curiosity, and gradual understanding, until a twist ending that forces you to reevaluate everything you've seen. Only then will the mysteries of Swimming Pool be fully and tantalizingly revealed. (Note: The unrated version contains full-frontal nudity that's been edited from the rated version. In both versions, the overall plot is not affected.) --Jeff Shannon
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While Charlotte Rampling delivers a fascinating level of insidiousness into the role of writer Sarah Morton, the role is somewhat underdeveloped -- or, depending on how you read the ending, could also be a deliberate, one-sided portrayal of a psychology whose other facets are reflected somewhere else in the film. Personally I still feel more could have been done with the role both in the writing and in the performance; for the first half hour, there is practically no conflict, leaving one with the feeling that Sarah is just a prototypical "repressed English old-maid writer". Thankfully, the script opens up the character late in the film to prevent her from being a complete cliche, and this is where Rampling is allowed to strut her stuff.
But Sagnier, as rebellious Julie, is the emotional core of the film. Aside from delivering the unabashed sexuality and spunky charm this kind of role requires, Sagnier's gift shows in the heavier psychological scenes, especially when Julie is alone. Sagnier conveys the complexities of a haunted, mysterious soul with a background of deep joy and deep hurt. She may well have given the sexiest performance of the year, but to be able to colour this performance with the emotional truth she conjures is simply amazing.
The story won't be to all tastes. The twist ending is deliberately ambiguous; the editing is bold; and pacing-wise the film lags at two spots. Luckily, whenever Rampling and Sagnier square off, the dramatic sparks fly, and most of the film is based on the interplay of the two actors. There's also the matter of the explicit sexuality. However, be patient with this film (especially with the first 40 minutes or so) and you will be rewarded with one of the finest performances of the year in a film that's unique both in its strengths and its flaws.
Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling) is a British murder-mystery author in search for new ideas for her new book which is overdue. She is a typical OCD single British lady with un ugly hat. Her publisher offers her to spend the summer at his vacation house in the South of France. There she meets his sensual and uninhibited daughter Julie, (Ludivine Sagnier, portraying a young French woman). A lots of things are going on, and towards the end of the movie we are left with a lot of questions. Until the very last two scenes of the movie. Then everything becomes clear.
This is a great film with absolutely great direction and a great plot and a superb interpretation by Charlotte Ramplimg and Ludivine Sagnier. Five stars all around. Outstanding!!! Once the titles are rolling you may have to watch it again to see where you missed the clues.
Thats when hints of Alfred Hitchcock suspense and danger start to loam - and that is also when the movie begins to weave its inescapable spell, especially when a young woman arrives at the house.
Don't want to give this one away, but do suggest you think about the act of writing and inspiration while viewing this one. Do that and you might not encounter the confusion that sidetracked some viewers from the fun of this one. Loved it, plan to watch it several more times to catch what I missed first time around.
Most recent customer reviews
Great Charlotte Rampling flick with an unexpected twist or two