This is a blog which primarily gives some attention to movies that I find were overlooked (for whatever reason) or are simply underrated. I also comment on other, mainly movie-related issues as well. I welcome any suggestions for films to be added to this distinguished list.

One word of warning: The films listed below contain spoilers, so caution during reading is required.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Swimming Pool (2003)

"I'm so tired."
"Not surprising. It's tiring to kill a man."
-Julie Bosland and Sarah Morton.

It's one thing to come away from a film with disappointment, but it's quite another to go into a film expecting one kind of story but getting another-and yet still be satisfied with the finished product.

Long ago, I was at a movie theater in Kentucky to see Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes(1984) when I first saw the film poster for Tightrope(1984). The poster, with its image of Clint Eastwood bathed in red and the tagline "A cop on the edge...," made me think initially that this would be the next Dirty Harry film, which, believe it or not, surprised me even at that very young age because the fourth film in that series, Sudden Impact(1983), was released the previous year and most film series took at least two years between entries (at least those with studio backing).

When I finally saw Tightrope years later, I went into it knowing Clint wasn't playing Harry, but the film still struck me with its differences not only from the Dirty Harry films, but most other police films. For one thing, Clint doesn't have any one-liners in the movie, which adds to the wonderfully gritty nature of the film. Also unlike most movie detectives, his character (Wes Block) spends a lot of the film inside his own head which makes the film as much a character study as a straight thriller.

Likewise, when I first saw the poster for Swimming Pool, I thought it would be a take on Lolita(1962), but, upon seeing it, I found it to be something more surprising.

Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling) is a British author who is experiencing writer’s block while writing her next book. At the behest of her publisher, John Bosland (Charles Dance), Sarah goes to his country house in France to unwind.

Not long after her arrival, however, Sarah meets Julie (Ludivine Sagnier), who claims to be John’s daughter, and makes herself at home in order to take a vacation herself.

Although Sarah disapproves of Julie’s lifestyle, which consists of one-night stands, she, nonetheless, finds herself developing a fascination with them. This fascination eventually turns into envy, which isn’t helped when Julie brings home a waiter named Franck (Jean-Marie Lamour), who becomes more interested in Sarah.

This triangle comes to a tragic end when Julie kills Franck after he attempted to leave her one evening. She later tells Sarah that his body is in one of the sheds.
Sarah then seduces Marcel (Marc Fayolle), the gardener, in order to distract him when he becomes suspicious of a mound of fresh soil (where Franck’s body is). Julie then leaves and thanks Sarah by leaving her the manuscript of an unpublished novel written by her late mother.

Upon returning to England, Sarah delivers her new novel and encounters Julie, albeit a completely different person than the one she shared a roof with in France.
Both Rampling and Sagnier are wonderful (and wonderful to look at) as characters who have been through a lot and just want time to relax, but find their problems increase ten-fold.

The ending was controversial to some, who found it unclear if all the events truly occurred or if it was the work of Sarah's imagination. Such ambiguity is perfect for this film and, in particular, her character since she's a writer.

As I said before, I expected a story along the lines of Lolita when I first saw the poster for this film. What makes this gem unique, though, is that it has not one but two beautiful female leads, both of whom are sympathetic and develop an intriguing bond which is the core of the film.

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