Tulsa TV Memories

"Swimming Pool"
A Film Review by Gary Chew

GARY CHEW/Sacramento

If you’re feeling a bit naughty and rebellious during this slack time of the year, go see something rather risqué that’s sure to submerge you in (dare I say it?) French culture. There couldn’t be a better place to do that this summer than in François Ozon’s “Swimming Pool,” or, more specifically, in the theatre near you that’s now showing “Swimming Pool.”

It’s a deliciously deceptive film that, despite its lack of substance, holds your attention and, later, makes for great conversation over a snack with a cool drink and, maybe, a dip in your own pool. As his first work in English, Ozon’s film requires that certain things ought not be discussed prior to seeing it, so in that regard, I will just say that “Swimming Pool,” should be observed in much the same frame of mind as when watching, say, David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive.” (These two films, otherwise, couldn’t be more dissimilar.) The viewer must be aware of what is intended as reality against that which is imagined. Ozon doesn’t make that easy for us. But that’s part of the “fun” of “Swimming Pool.”

Charlotte Rampling
Charlotte Rampling in "Swimming Pool" (yet she is dry.)

Charlotte Rampling, an actress who undoubtedly inspired the line “still water runs deep,” plays Sarah, a famous British mystery novelist who’s suffering writer’s block. Her loss of inspiration, it seems, accounts for great frustration with midlife. Or is it the other way around?

Sarah’s London publisher, John, played by Charles Dance, makes his rural chateau in the south of France available as a change of venue and stimulus for Sarah to continue with their profitable crime story series.

Ludivine Sagnier The Mediterranean solitude quietly begins to stir Sarah’s creative juices in a lovely setting of house with vibrant, blue swimming pool. But as quick as you can say, “Marco Polo!” the publisher’s horny, twenty-something daughter, Julie, played by the alluring Ludivine Sagnier, bursts on the scene. Music by Megadeath and noisy lovemaking with hunky males from the local village are not conducive to writing a good mystery. Or, are they?

Ozon revels in the female clash which then leads to a dark turn in a psychological yarn that sustains us right on to the tricky ending. As insurance though, François requires both women to display considerable amounts of skin in the project. They do it with class. In fact, Rampling, deserves congratulations for her risky showing of all in “Swimming Pool” since it was nearly four decades back that she appeared in “Georgy Girl.” Hey there, the years have been exceedingly good to this very fine film actress.

Ludivine Sagnier and Charlotte Rampling
"I thought YOU were going to pick up the Bac-O-Bits."

It may turn out that this lightweight film from France could be sort of a sleeper for the summer. Last year, it was one of the more well-received movies at Cannes. That, of course, can’t be reason enough to assume “Swimming Pool” will be as appreciated here in the U.S., having seen some of the off-the-wall flicks that win Cannes' praise. It might just be safer--- if you know what I mean---for us to just stick with the freedom fries and Thunderbird when taking that skinny dip in the crick.

Sacre bleu!

Now showing at the AMC Southroads 20 in Tulsa.

Swimming Pool. Rated R; strong sexual content, nudity, language, some violence, drug use. Running time 102 minutes

Distributor: Focus Features

Gary Chew can be reached via email at garychew@comcast.net.

Copyright © 2003, Gary Chew. All rights reserved.

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