Swimming Pool (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner08/08/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins
English with some subtitles

Beautifully-shot, well-acted drama that’s by turns erotic, amusing and sinister – though it’s let down by an annoying ending.

Swimming Pool is prolific French director Francois Ozon’s follow-up to last year’s gloriously camp Eight Women. It also marks his second collaboration with Charlotte Rampling after the brooding drama Under The Sand. Essentially, Swimming Pool is a thriller in the style of Claude Chabrol or Alfred Hitchcock, though it also has subtle points to make about the blurring between fiction and reality.

Writer In The P.D. James Mould

Rampling plays Sarah Morton, a repressed English thriller writer in the P.D. James mould. Intending to write something different from her series of best-selling detective novels, she accepts when her publisher (Charles Dance) offers her the use of his mansion in the South of France, secretly hoping he’ll join her there. However, her peaceful idyll is shattered by the arrival of Julie (Ludivine Sagnier), her publisher’s precocious, promiscuous and frequently naked daughter.

At first Sarah is irritated by Julie’s never-ending string of sexual conquests, especially when she seduces the local barman (Marc Fayolle) Sarah had her eye on. However, she gradually becomes fascinated with her and various subtle power games begin to unfold…

Sagnier The New Bardot?

The acting is excellent – Rampling is perfectly cast as the uptight writer and her scenes with the local barman are extremely revealing. Sagnier, though, is a revelation – giving a confident, carefree, extremely sexy performance that seems to deliberately evoke Brigitte Bardot. (It’s hard to believe she was the plain-looking one in Eight Women.)

The film is also beautifully shot, by the splendidly-named cinematographer Yorick Le Saux – the sun-drenched landscapes and especially the enticing blues of the titular pool are practically mouth-watering. It’s also impressively directed, with Ozon carefully creating an intense atmosphere where the balance of power is constantly shifting.

Sadly, the ending of the film is disappointing, though it is at least guaranteed to send you out of the film with plenty to talk about. At any rate, it is definitely worth seeing for the fire/ice combination of Sagnier and Rampling. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Swimming Pool (15)
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Content updated: 19/04/2019 05:55

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