Following a long drought of sexless American movies, we were - how shall I put this? - unprepared for the crazed psychosexual drama that Ozon nearly coerced us to watch, somewhat willingly. When I think of this fabulous filmmaker, the musical "8 Women" and the Catherine Deneuve charmer, "Potiche," immediately come to mind. But, wait - Ozon also moonlights as an occasional provocateur, notorious for fare more disturbing and unforgiving, such as "Swimming Pool" and "See the Sea."
"L'amont Double" is ostensibly about a morose young woman's obsession with the notion of twins, "ostensibly" being the operative word here.
In the opening scene, this troubled woman, Chloé (Marine Vacth), has her hair cut to resemble Mia Farrow's in Roman Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" (the first of several noteworthy film references made by Ozon) and then visits a gynecologist, complaining of intense stomach pains. Her doctor recommends a trip to a psychoanalyst named Paul (Jérémie Renier).
What follows is equal measures of graphic sex and more filmic references, with specific nods to Alfred Hitchcock, David Cronenberg, Brian DePalma, Ridley Scott and, as mentioned, Polanski. Ozon seemingly loses control of his narrative - "seemingly" being the operative word here - which is the same impression that Darren Aronofsky implied with "mother!" But then, in his film's last ten minutes, he goes a step further and fiendishly upends everything that we experienced and blindly believed. No, he's in control.
Ozon's movie, aside from creating the dubious pleasure of peeking in a window and watching private lovemaking, is a grim reminder of how sex-free - and more to the point, infantile - that American movies have become. Adult moviegoers, not just children and teenagers, now flock to action movies and comic-book flicks in which men and women barely converse, let alone have anything resembling an intimate relationship.
I can't recall the last major studio film, with major players, that included a sex scene. And if there was one, the players were certainly not A-list.
I'm thinking of someone like Tom Cruise, who started his career as "sex symbol" but now plays largely asexual characters in action movies.
It's curiious: The modern Hollywood sex symbol isn't sexual on screen. George Clooney? Jennifer Lawrence? Ryan Gosling? Charlize Theron? All hugely attractive (and desirable) people who lead sexless lives on screen.
And then there's Sarah Jessica Parker, a terrific actress. But when she engages in a scene with a man in a bed (as she did regularly on "Sex and the City" and now on "Divorce"), she's wears either a bra or a slip. Huh?
While it's understandable that actresses would rather not be exploited or objectified in films and eschew nudity (even partial) when possible, I feel compelled to ask: Why even agree to a script that includes a sex scene?
And what's wrong with playing the scene in question under a sheet? It would be more natural and certainly more realistic than being clothed.
It's as if the Puritans have been resurrected and taken over the film industry. You remember the Puritans, right? The original settlers here. Sex freaked them out but they sure loved their guns. Nothing's changed.
If the real Puritans were here today and saw "L'amont Double"/"Double Lover," they'd be self-righteously appalled, call for tar and feathers, and chant:."Devil's work! Perversion, be gone! Heathens, repent! Amen!"
Anyway, enough can't be said about the cunning performance(s) of Jérémie Renier in Ozon's affronting, twisted film which, it should be noted, is based on a story by Joyce Carol Oates ("Lives of the Twins"), no less.
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~Original French poster art for "L'amont Double"/"Double Lover"
~Jérémie Renier and Marine Vacth in a scene from the film
~photography: Cohen Media Group 2018©
~photography: Cohen Media Group 2018©