Tuesday, February 13, 2018

François Ozon is back with DOUBLE LOVER, a box of yummy poison candy for Valentine's Day

When, at the end of his career, the work of French filmmaker François Ozon, gets a going-over by movie buffs, I suspect there will be some gnashing of teeth regarding exactly what kind of films for which he was most noted. Were these the campy comedies (Sitcom, 8 Women) or the oddball/otherworldly (Ricky)? The dark and ugly (See the Sea, Criminal Lovers) or the period pieces (Angel, Potiche and Frantz), each as hugely different from the other two as possible? One thing nearly all his films have in common to one degree or other is Ozon's peculiar sense of camp, which infuses even his most serious pieces.

Ozon's kind of camp (the filmmaker is pictured at left), TrustMovies feels, transcends the merely gay and over-the-top stuff we're so used to seeing.

There is a sense of playfulness and fun to even his darkest work that keeps reminding us that, yes, this is just a movie, but still, movies can tell us special things and in a manner than almost nothing else can.

This makes for an odd combination, to say the least, keeping us often off-balance. But when Ozon makes it work, as in his best films -- In the House, Time to Leave and Under the Sand  -- it opens our eyes, mind and heart in a way that can only be described as Ozonian.

In his latest endeavor, DOUBLE LOVER, the filmmaker has adapted a novel by Joyce Carol Oates, Lives of the Twins, and made yet another movie about the effects of the convergence of psychology, trauma and sexuality on a human being. Similar in some ways to another of his recent films, The New Girlfriend, the movie is not among his best, but, as usual with Ozon, it is so much fun to view visually as it bumps along, you will not, I think, be at all bored. It helps, too, that he is using three very attractive and charismatic actors as his leads: Jérémie Renier and Marine Vacth (above, left and right), along with a still-gorgeous Jacqueline Bisset (below, left).

To talk at all about the plot here will mean that I am "lying" to you because viewers cannot always be sure that what they're seeing and hearing is even true. So let's just leave it that we're dealing with a quite beautiful young woman (Ms Vacth), who has some stomach problems that appear to be psychosomatic and so her physician recommends she consult a psychiatrist (M. Renier) to help solve them.

It is such a pleasure to view these two very attractive performers, whom we see here looking their absolute best, whether clothed or naked (imagine a therapy session like the one below!), that the increasingly convoluted plot -- with enough holes to remind you of a very large chunk of swiss cheese -- keeps threatening to spin completely out of control.

Yes, twins are involved here, which means we get a double dose of the glorious Ms. Renier, and if you're a cat lover, you'll get a couple of beautiful examples of this species, too. There's a nosy neighbor (Miriam Boyer), a gynecologist (Dominique Reymond) who seems oddly familiar later on in this movie, and finally Ms Bisset, who helps bring all the various puzzle pieces together.

Yeah, you'll probably find it a bunch of hooey, overall, but so cleverly put together is it, and so very beautiful is the lovely Ms Vacth from first scene to last (yes, Chekhov's gun makes its appearance, with the usual rule played out) that I suspect you'll have had a good enough time to make a viewing of Double Lover worthwhile.

The movie seems especially appropriate for Valentine's Day, given Ozon's sense of humor and his delight in offering us what one might see as a poisoned bon-bon wrapped up initially like a lovely dream that unfortunately proceeds into nightmare.

From Cohen Media Group, in French with English subtitles and running 107 minutes, Double Lover opens tomorrow, Wednesday, February 14, in New York City (at the Quad Cinema and AMC Empire 25), Los Angeles (at Laemmle's Playhouse 7 and Royal), San Francisco (at the Landmark Opera Plaza Cinema) and Philadelphia (at the Landmark Ritz East). Elsewhere? I would hope that the film will play in other venues around the country over the weeks/months to come, but I could find no link to any list of playdates.

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