l’Amant Double (2017) ***

May 28th, 2018
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: François Ozon | Cast: Jeremie Renier, Marine Vacth | Drama | France | 104min

François Ozon is back with a meandering 90s-style erotic thriller that starts as an upbeat, intriguing psychodrama hinting at hidden depths, but then loses its sting in the final stages. Poking fun at its female-centric themes, the film opens with an eye-watering gynaecological close-up – if only the script was as tight as its heroine’s tooshie.

The female anatomy belongs to pouting pixie-like minx Chloe (Marine Vacth) who is bored in her new job at a trashy art museum. Just as well, because her love life is complex and full of energetic sexual encounters that kick off when she falls for her dishy psychoanalyst Paul (Jeremie Renier). But when they move in together Chloe is alarmed to discover Paul is not who he seems. Firking around in his things she finds his passport with a different name and realises her lover has an analyst twin brother, which at first he denies. Pretending to need therapy, she tracks down the identical sibling (Renier flips deftly between the two), and soon they too are having rampant sex.

Ozon’s twin theme recalls the obsessive psycho thrillers of Brian De Palma and Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers and even The Brood, where emotional confusion casts doubt on the central character’s state of mind. This is Marine Vacth’s second collaboration with Ozon since she sprung to fame in his 2013 drama Young and Beautiful, and here she plays a similar type who is slightly disdainful and dissatisfied with her life. Despite Paul’s amorous and easy-going nature, Chloe is curiously drawn to the more difficult character of his brother – Jeremie Renier excels in both roles. Ozon, as playful as ever, then resorts to his box of kinky tricks as Chloe turns dominatrix, in a twist obviously worked into the narrative to delight French audiences – who love this kind of thing. From then on L’AMANT DOUBLE broadens into an exploration of Chloe’s gynaecological and psychosexual issues, scuppering the suspense and  the impact of the ultimate reveal.

Thank God for Jacqueline Bissett whose vignette spices up the dragged out denouement, and Myriam Boyer who brings some light relief as the nosy neighbour with a penchant for cats. If only Ozon would return to his more satisfying early thrillers, such as Under the Sand (2000)Swimming Pool (2003) or the serious dramas such as Frantz (2016).



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