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SWIMMING POOL (2003, FRANCE-GBR) – 8/10

This mysterious erotic thriller remains the best-known and most commercially successful film made by perhaps the leading French filmmaker of the 21st century, Francois Ozon. For the last quarter of a century, he has almost been keeping up with Woody Allen and releasing one film a year, and he won the Golden Bear in Berlin, has 19 nominations for the French Cesar Award and ten nominations for the European Oscar, along with one award for the best screenwriter. This erotically charged thriller about a middle-aged English writer who went to France on vacation and in search of inspiration was filmed under the obvious influence of Alfred Hitchcock and Claude Chabol, and “Swimming Pool” was a great success at the box office.

British actress Charlotte Rampling is best remembered for her femme fatale roles in films from the seventies, and although the actress with striking piercing light blue eyes was never a big star, she had a long and successful career. In the earlier stage of her career, she had a lot of bold roles in erotic films, and a much younger, fatal, sexually free young woman here will completely fascinate her. Rampling is Sarah Morton, a famous author of crime novels who is already tired of writing about the adventures of a popular detective, and her publisher John Bosload (Charles Dance) will offer her to go on vacation to his villa with a swimming pool in the south of France.

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Sarah will accept the offer and will realize that she enjoys solitude there and is inspired again, and it seems that the only person who comes there is an old driver who lives in the countryside with a dwarf daughter who looks even older than him. But one evening, an unexpected visitor will appear there, Julie (Ludivine Sagnier), John’s daughter whom he never mentioned to her. Sarah didn’t expect to have company there, and Julie is a confident girl who will bring a new guy to the mansion every night. She sunbathes naked all day long and seems to deliberately provoke and challenge the increasingly frustrated Sarah, who will initially be uncomfortable and angry with Julie’s presence, but over time she will become curious and Julie will further inspire her for a new novel.

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That sexy, challenging, seductive, wild, unrestrained and free girl seems to repel and attract her at the same time, and over time, Sarah will begin to slowly break free. Seemingly a typical English conservative lady who does everything in moderation and is careful how she behaves and what impression she leaves, she will remain completely fascinated with Julie, especially when she finds her mother’s diary and notes and starts to create her new novel based on them. And after a while, this excellent thriller will turn into some much darker waters, especially after Julie brings a waiter to the villa one evening whom Sarah had her eye on. By the end, we will understand that it is a film that hides many surprises, and Ozon has confirmed with “Pool” that he is a master of thrillers, having made a sophisticated, seductive film that will unravel in a completely unexpected direction.

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