Swimming Pool


Directed by: Francois Ozon
Written by:Francois Ozon
Starring: Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier, Charles Dance, Marc Fayolle, Jean-Marie Lamour
Released: October 2, 2003
Grade: B+

More and more non-American films are appearing in Australian cinemas and it’s great to see.  We no longer have to wait until the yearly film festivals to appreciate what other countries have to offer.  Francois Ozon is a leading director in France and his prowess saw Swimming Pool appear as one of the few French entrants selected to compete for the Palm D’or at this year’s lucrative Cannes Film Festival.

It’s a story which begins a little too slowly.  Sarah Morton is a wealthy writer suffering from a case of writers block.  She has always written detective murder mysteries but wants to do something different to answer her critics.  Helping her out is editor John Bosload (Dance) who offers his French villa to Sarah as a place to go, clear her mind, and write in peace.

It’s everything that Sarah was looking for an almost immediately she’s put pen to paper.  The relaxing atmosphere is soon to be upset when John’s teenage daughter, Julie (Sagnier) arrives to stay.  Sarah is furious with John for omitting to tell her this before she came.  Julie is a sexually promiscuous girl who brings home a new man every night.  She’s got no qualms with her body either and frequently swims in the pool and walks around the house topless.  Ozon makes sure we don’t miss this either with frequent extended close ups on Sagnier’s large breasts.

Sarah and Julie are at odds but soon become friends with Sarah drawing on Julie’s personality and stories as inspiration for her new book.  She starts fumbling through Julie’s diary, spying on her around the house and asking quizzical questions about her past and relationship with her father.  It’s the kind of story you’d expect Sarah to be writing about rather than actually experiencing which makes it all the more ironic.

My mind tended to waver at stages as some scenes were completely useless and offered nothing to the story.  One for example, sees Sarah plug in her computer using a double adaptor.  Why it was included I do not know.  Any doubts regarding the screenplay and some of the interesting developments will be answered by a very appropriate conclusion which I strongly approve of but will not spoil.

It may be a French production but most every word is in English and so the beauty of the location (and its star) will not be lost in the chore of reading subtitles.  You should never judge a book by its cover and if you have any doubts while watching the film, remember to wait till it’s fully over before reaching a definitive conclusion.