Kerry H. (haasker) from OREGON CITY, OR Reviewed on 4/1/2016...
I've been an "art film" lover since my studies in college, and I've been following Charlotte's career over many years, beginning with her chilling performance in "The Night Porter", 1973. I feel like I've grown up with her, watching her in her many films over the years. The "Swimming Pool" is a perfect bookend to her career (hopefully she is not done making films yet). She is the older woman now, wizend and deserving of respect. Does she get it in this film? Possible **** SPOILER ALERT *****
Does she really meet her host's daughter, and have all the interactions with her? You be the judge.
I totally loved the mind games that were such a huge part of the film. I thought about it for days afterwards, always a very good sign of having watched something very special. As with many Rampling films, this is not for everyone, I'm sure there are those who would find it incredibly dull and lacking in action. For me, I can't wait to watch it again. I'm very happy it was available on Swap to become a permanent part of my collection.
Larry N. from BEALETON, VA Reviewed on 3/14/2016...
Kind of a confusing movie. Some things are left up to interpretation and the line between fiction and reality is blurred.
It's about an English novelist that goes to her publishers vacant house in France in hopes of being able to write her latest novel in peace and quiet. The peace and quiet seems to be disrupted by her publisher's daughter unexpectedly showing up, but is that the case?
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Gary J. (gjones) from TROUTDALE, OR Reviewed on 9/8/2009...
Very good movie. Charlotte Rampling was outstanding and the young French girl, ludivine sagnier, stole the show. She was brash, innocent, sexy and demure and always 100% natural. (And of course very, very attractive.) The pace was good, the characters were interesting and there was good tension in the second half of the movie. All in all, a good, sexy erotic thriller well worth the watch.
Tension and eroticism is experienced through the eyes
J. J. Sargent | Waterbury, CT United States | 08/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film creeps up on you and is absolutely spellbinding. It's the simple story of an aging mass-market crime-fiction writer called Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling) who rambles off to the French countryside to find relaxation and hopefully inspiration for her next-in-the-series mystery book. While staying at her publisher's luxurious yet quaint summer retreat, she is confronted by his young daughter Julie (Ludivine Sagnier). Subsequently, all sorts of wild, unpredictable mischief ensues as the prim and proper Englishwoman clashes with the sexually carefree vixen, who evolves into an unexpected muse to the older woman. My pal Oscar and I have spent the summer watching a number of French films, and one thing we both have learned and agree on is that for the most part, unlike most mainstream American films, they are mostly unpredictable. SWIMMING POOL is no different. Just when I thought I had it figured out, a number of odd plot twists move the narrative down an unsettling and unforgiving path until a sensitive and poignant ending reveals tragic truths about life, getting old, and the whimsy of youth that can be difficult for the young to face but which in many ways are empowering to those getting on in the years. If the film instructs anywhere, it is in the wisdom that we are only as old as we feel.Expect tantalizingly erotic moments, mostly surrounding Ms. Sagnier's natural sensuality. There's plenty of eye-candy here, and in the viewing, one cannot help but feel strangely connected to the voyeuristic tendencies exhibited by Sarah as her dismal stoicism slowly disintegrates. Indeed, much of the film's tension and eroticism is experienced through the characters' eyes. Ernest Hemingway said, "I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen." Surely the realm of the author is also to look, and more importantly, to see, as sharply illustrated by Sarah Morton's experience. In the end, her book may be the better for it -- to the possible chagrin of her publisher. Thus in some way, the film has much to say about the way literature is produced (through a "sexual" creative act) and how authors are oft times stripped of soul, reduced to rote formula, marketed, sold and neglected in pursuit of the next best selling author down the pike. In the film, Sarah attempts to transcend this trend through her collision with the young Julie (and in her fictional portrayal in the book she is writing).Expect to be somewhat dismayed by the ending, but give it a moment, put the pieces together and it will all make sense. It's shear pleasure to enjoy a film these days that doesn't fill in the blanks for the audience, and this little gem is a clear winner. The fine acting betrays the taint of sentimentality. The sublime beauty and vivid verisimilitude of the setting and cinematography enhance the overall cinematic experience, and in more than one instance will leave the viewer breathless. Some might complain that the film seems to meander, but this is true of many French films I've seen. This one is no different. Rather than commit to a rigid narrative form, the film appears more like a painting, with rich textures and colors folded onto the canvas in layers. Each scene builds on the last, every moment touches the next. The film is an experience as much as it is a story."
Pool of Blood
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 07/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Intelligent, expertly written, extremely well acted and story-lined for the adults, "The Swimming Pool" is Francois Ozon's first film in English. Ozon has no trouble maneuvering his way around and into a difficult, non-linear story, especially after seeing his "Under the Sand" and "8 Women." And he proves it once again here.
Charlotte Rampling plays Sarah Morton, a successful English detective novelist who is experiencing a bad case of writer's block. Her publisher, John Bosload (Charles Dance) offers her his French Country home for a vacation to re-energize her writing juices. And it works as Sarah begins a new book. But then Bosloads daughter Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) shows up with the nubile sex appeal of a young Brigitte Bardot. And basically all hell breaks loose.
In her early scenes with Bosload, Rampling plays Sarah with an outward cool, yet it is obvious she is repressing a strong attraction to him. At this point Rampling is the picture of English spinsterhood: all bottled up in a buttoned to the neck cardigan and cinched up in sensible shoes. But when Julie arrives on the scene with her gorgeous, hair, eyes and body, Sarah cannot help herself it seems as she spews a ghastly amount of venom on her. For Sarah, Julie is not only a disturbance; she's an interloper, not only of her writing but also of her placid, solitary life. Julie is alive, vibrant, and outwardly sexual: all the things that Sarah isn't. It is reminiscent of those nature films in which the reigning, older Lioness must prove her superiority by clawing and humiliating the younger Lioness. Both Rampling and Sagnier go at each other in such a fury and with such conviction that you can feel the undeniable and tangible heat of all the passion, hate and jealousy emanating from their scenes together.
Ozon calls upon several other films for inspiration but as Sarah becomes more interested in Julie as a subject for a book, he calls upon Bergman and specifically "Persona"
and it's story of transferred personalities and character traits.
"The Swimming Pool" is a sly, immensely enjoyable yet persuasively adult film. It is also a testament to the sterling talents of Francois Ozon, Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier."
Just a theory
MICHAEL ACUNA | 09/13/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A theory: The writer made up the whole story. She does indeed take the house in France, and maybe makes phone calls to the editor, which he ignores, but staring at the swimming pool from her window gives her another idea for a book. I think she's sick of herself, her books and her readers. (Think of her reaction in the editor's office when the other author says his mother can't wait for her next book. Also on the subway she doesn't acknowledge that she's the author of the book the pudgy middle-aged lady is reading.) In my opinion, the characters: Julie, the waiter, all those men; the situation: the murder, the diary, the story of Julie's mother, the editor as a libertine - all made up. She includes herself in the story, acts it out in her mind, and what we see is the acting out. She'd rather be the person she portrays herself as. Know what I mean? She makes herself sexier and more attractive (remember how pleased she was that the waiter preferred her to Julie?). She makes herself clever and heroic when she helps Julie cover up her crime. She makes herself more maternal when she comforts Julie and understands the loss of her mother. Julie trusts her even when she finds out she's read her diary. I think she's miffed at her editor over perceived slights and doesn't think he respects her talents except in a limited way. Even in the end, she's very pleased with her new book and knows it's her best by far, but he likes the steady cash cow. She knew he would which is why she gave it to another publisher, although she'll give him her next Inspector So & So book. The biggest clue to me was at the end in the editor's office. He's read the book and although he doesn't care for it, is not upset or furious which he would have been if it had really been about his daughter; if he had recognized himself as the creepy, absent father, and included his wife's story, which he supposedly had read and thought was destroyed. He doesn't react because he doesn't see any resemblance between himself and the people in her story because there is none. And of course in walks cute, pudgy little Julia, and by the way they greet each other you know there's a good relationship between them.
The author looking puzzled at the end is either a ploy to throw us off, or her musing for a moment on the contrast between her Julie and his Julia."
Get Out Your Speedos and Dive In
V. Marshall | North Fork, CA USA | 12/09/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you love a good mystery and a few titillating shots for good measure this French film will knock your Speedos off.
Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling) is a mystery writer who specializes in solving murder plots but she has become disenchanted with her direction and with her unrequited relationship with her publisher. His suggestion is that she takes some time away and re-think her concepts so she is whisked away to his beautiful home in Southern France. To Sarah's surprise and disappointment her publisher never visits but his incorrigible daughter Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) does. Sarah discovers that Julie is hiding a past that has caused her to be sexually promiscuous and irresponsible but Sarah is drawn to her youthful vigor and experimentation. Let the games begin! Sarah discovers a new avenue to pursue in her writing and Julie seeks the approval of a mother she lost. Together the women form bonds that cross a few lines and create disaster.
Yet another French film has succeeded in stumping the typical American audience who it seems gets lost behind in the nudity and spectacular flaunting of the beautiful Sagnier. But it's the story that is more impressive here. French director Francois Ozon has created a visually stunning film that seduces with much more than a few breast shots. Well written and complex this movie will fool you until the very end. To truly get what you have just witnessed it requires a few viewings and a mind that doesn't get lost on a naked body here and there. I found the story to be as brilliant as this film was hyped up to be and I can't imagine how anyone could find it disappointing. But the French don't need a stuffed Speedo to be brilliant; their cinematic seduction arrives in a much more subtle way... so dive in and enjoy a little swim with a filmmaker who knows what he is doing. "
"Like a typical art house film, this offering from director, François Ozon meanders a bit, giving us a slice of the life of Sarah Morton, a successful crime fiction author as she foregoes her busy London writer's block for the needed tranquility of the South of France. We watch Sarah perform little things with little dialogue and get the impression that she lives a routine where most of her desires are repressed by her own rigidity. We get a glimpse of her life in London with her father and a sense that Sarah's only outlet may be some secret drinking. We feel her yearning for something else, perhaps she feels she is destined for better things as a writer besides financial success. She settles into her new environment quickly, and just as immediately begins a new manuscript. Happily preoccupied, her thoughts of writing something a little different are back-burnered until the advent of her publisher's daughter--Julie. Julie embodies everything that Sarah is not. Her young vivacious, and blatantly sexy persona instantly provoke Sarah to bristling hostility---after all, her peaceful interlude has been disturbed; the routine is broken and Sarah finds that she can no longer write her usual police procedural. Instead, she begins to explore Julie, at first visually as Julie quite candidly and literally bounces about the villa in half-naked splendor and then with her other senses, as Julie loudly proclaims her enjoyment of the sexual pleasures attained when she brings home a different man every night and replaces Sarah's bland yogurt and diet Coke with palate pleasing cheeses, foie gras and the region's best wine. The more Sarah learns about Julie, the more mystery she uncovers and busily records in a new manuscript with the writer's typical deft enjoyment---what is the situation between Julie's father and mother? What is the scar on Julie's abdomen? What's this about a car accident involving Julie and her mother? Why does she come home with a black eye? And why does she keep replacing the crucifix above Sarah's bed? At the point in the film when Julie secretly reads the working manuscript, the two characters of Julie and Sarah seemed to me to merge into one. They both romance a waiter from the nearby village and when Julie confesses to killing him, Sarah does not blink an eye, but rather aids her in getting rid of the body and diverting the attentions of any suspicious outsiders. At this point the film rapidly draws to its conclusion. The action becames improbable and strains the viewer's ability to accept it all as credibile. We feel as if we we have been drawn into a rather implausible plot and are expected to believe it. When Sarah returns to London and presents her publisher with the finished book---supposedly about his highly promiscuous murdering daughter, he doesn't even bat an eye. When Sarah, encounters Julia, the publisher's daughter at the film's end, we discover that Julie and Julia were not at all the same person. When the credits role, our reaction is HUH? accompanied by a lot of head-scratching. But, what if Julie was just a character that Sarah dreamed up in her head, what if some of Julie's personality were intermingled with Sarah's own life--her own past and present relationship with her father and her mother. What if a lifetime of repression was allowed a voice crying out from the body of a ripe teenager? Or perhaps all the unanswered questions about Julie's past and her troubled present were just plot devices, red herrings and dead-ends that all writers encounter as they work out a story. Either way, what if that magically creative once-in-the-lifetime story suddenly took on a life of its own and allowed itself to be written down? This is all speculation, but I believe that to a degree this is what the Swimming Pool alludes to: the creative process likened to taking a plunge in a deeper, less safe end of the pools we have all created for ourselves. Well worth watching with someone you can discuss it with later!"