Ozon Updates Fassbinder in an Edgy Ménage a Quarte
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"François Ozon has flair and style ('Swimming Pool', 'Under the Sand', '8 Women', etc) and in scripting Rainer Fassbinder's 1970s play 'Gouttes d'eau sur pierres brûlantes' for the screen he has created an edgy, fun, and poignant examination of the lives of four people at their intersection.
Act I (for that is the way the film is laid out in homage to Fassbinder's play): 50-year-old Léopold (Bernard Giraudeau) is entertaining 19-year-old Franz (Malik Zidi), who he has picked up in a bar, with sharp repartees about his past loves and is sparred by Franz relating his current affair with the young and beautiful Anna (Ludivine Sagnier). The conversation gradually gets around to seduction and both Léopold and Franz happily reenact each other's physical fantasies. Act II: some months later and Franz has moved in with Léopold becoming the devoted housewife in lederhosen to Léopold's increasingly cranky self. They argue, threaten, but eventually succumb to the safety of the boudoir to settle differences. Act III: Léopold's ex lover Vera (Anna Levine) arrives at the door to find Léopold in a new life and departs brokenhearted. Anna likewise arrives during one of Léopold's absences and for two days Franz and Anna try to recapture their previous affair. Upon Léopold's return, Anna finds Léopold appealing and behaves seductively. Vera arrives, reports that she is a transsexual now in a female form, and Léopold is delighted with the idea of a ménage a quarte. But it is Franz who has found his true life and love and how he deals with the proposed turn of events forms the rather surprising end to this film.
Each of the four actors is excellent and Ozon paces them well. There are some really fine moments, as when Franz reclines in his bath quoting Heine's poem 'Lorelei' revealing how far more penetrating the changes in his vision of his life really have become, when Ozon improves on Fassbinder. Not a great movie but a bit of the different that spices movie viewing. Grady Harp, August 05"
Depressing and depraved.
J. Martin | Upstate New York USA | 03/04/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This was a hard one not to like, because Malik Zidi is one of the most appealing men I've ever seen anywhere. If the movie had ended after the first half hour, I would have given it at least four stars just because of him. But the rabid, mean-spirited homophobia that drives this movie (and I assume the Fassbinder play it was based on) to its thoroughly depressing and depraved conclusion just becomes unbearable. Technically it's very well made, and I'm grateful for discovering Zidi, but I wish I'd never watched this depressing, hateful movie."