Friday, July 04, 2003

Swimming Pool (IMDB) (Netflix)
Charlotte Rampling is a successful-but-bored writer in the Miss Marple/Agatha Christie mold, who takes a holiday at her publisher's villa in France. Just as she's letting her English hair down and getting into a writing groove, in pops the publisher's daughter (Ludivine Sagnier)—Rampling's alter ego, a new-guy-every-night, clothing-optional bohemian who antagonizes Rampling with her mere presence and undisciplined behavior. Just as they're nearing a rapprochement, though, complications ensue and the tone becomes darker. Nominated this year for the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, which for some is a solid recommendation and to others a signal to quickly skip on down the movie listings.

As I was leaving the theater, a stranger asked me "did you understand the ending?" I didn't, not exactly. There's a twist right at the end, which was a pleasant-although-not-original surprise, followed by a mystifying coda of sorts that made me wonder if I actually understood what happened in the preceding one hundred minutes. Rampling is always watchable, but there's not a lot going on for the first hour; it's long first act followed by an out-of-the-blue plot twist that's resolved in a way that makes one wonder about her motivation. A slow, sunlit film noir that lacks that essential sense of dread.