Double Lover (2017)
User ReviewsAdd a Review
The symbolism of it all is clear. In 'L'Amant Double', lead character Chloé is in love with twin brothers. At least, that's what she thinks. And that's what we think. Unless the twins are really two sides of the same personality. But two sides of which personality exactly? His, or a projection of hers? What is real, what is imagined? Director François Ozon plays the game of mirrors perfectly, and keeps it up until the very end. When you think it's all clear, there are still some strange things. Which one of the twin brothers was the smoker again?
The film is very stylish. Ozon has made the most of the locations. In the museum where Chloé works as a guard, outrageous art is being exposed. It's a perfect backdrop for some visually beautiful scenes. The clothing, the hairdo's, the furniture: everything is done in the best of Parisian tastes.
There's much to enjoy in 'L'Amant Double', for different kinds of moviegoers. It is a thriller of some sorts, with the suspense building up until the last few minutes. It's also a psychological drama, with lots of twists and turns. And in the very end, there's even a little bit of horror. But overall, this is a very French film, with some kinky scenes and a nice amount of Parisian elegance.
The story which is 'freely' inspired by a novel by Joyce Carol Oates (which has already originated a movie by David Cronenberg) starts as the story about a relationship between a psychoanalyst and his patient that turns into a strange and uneasy love affair. While the relation between shrink and patient needs to be based on trust and truth, in this case the contrary happens, as each of the two characters avoids fully sharing their feelings, hides things from the past, speaks half truths or plain lies. They seem that they cannot work as a couple on any plan. The bad start of the relation develops to worse and the odd things that happen on screen are complicated by having them told in a mix of genres - French art film with Paris and a museum of disturbing modern art as background, erotic thriller, horror and guilt in the Hitchcock and Polanski traditions. All these get together in a 'bouillion' that becomes less and less credible, up to the point that the story cannot be solved but by explaining that all was some kind of dementia delirium with very prosaic physiological roots. What should have been a sophisticated game of mirrors becomes a multiplication of images by mirrors disposed in a chaotic manner. To make things worse, the ending makes the mistake of explaining too much in sordid details. Hard to believe that the film with this ending comes in the filmography of Ozon just after "Frantz" with the wonderful ambiguity of its open ending.
Acting is also problematic. Ozon's choice of actors seems sometimes odd (not only here) because they are characters that do not feel well in their own skins. In this case he chose Marine Vacth (his discovery in "Young & Beautiful ") for a role that needs more expressiveness and fragility than what the actress delivered on screen. There is no chemistry between her and either of the two selves (or twin brothers) played by Jérémie Renier . I will never complain about seeing again Jacqueline Bisset in a film and I appreciate Ozon's creating in every film of his strong and interesting feminine characters that break the stereotypes, but her role or maybe roles (another odd double) seem to be wasted talent here.
"The Double Lover" never reaches at cinematographic level its ambitions. The jury at Cannes 2017 deserves an award for not giving - despite the names of the director and the cast - any award to this movie.
Plagued by stomach pains that she is told are all in her head, Chloé (Marine Vacth) starts seeing psychiatrist Paul (Jérémie Renier with awful yellow beard and messy hairstyle). The pair fall in love (so much so that he's willing to let her use a dildo on him), but soon after they set up home together Chloé discovers that Paul has a twin brother whom he has never mentioned. Intrigued, she sets up a meeting with the twin, Louis (Renier again, with same awful yellow beard but neater hair) and before long she's boffing both brothers. But for what reason did Paul disown his twin, and how will that impact on Chloé's own fragile mental state?
So what is this film - psychological thriller? Mystery? Comedy, even (Myriam Boyer's cat-obsessed neighbour)? Ozon has produced such an entertaining film that it does not seem to matter. Which is not to say the film is flawless - I am not convinced the final explanation is 100% watertight; and French films where women lose their grip on reality are ten a penny.
Vacth is an engaging lead and Renier constructs two distinct characters as the twins (and, like Vacth, engages in a decent amount of on-screen nudity, which is always welcome). A surprise to me was the splendid performance of Jacqueline Bisset in her own dual role - it is a very nice turn indeed.
The french certainly have a different tolerance for nudity and sex as we all know but if it becomes pointless it just results in a cheap tool, as sex sells. I have to say though, that I didn't have the feeling at any time in the movie. All nudity scenes are there for a reason. While the style in which the film was shot in, is thrilling and you want to know what happens next, this has a small downside to it.
This movie has two possible endings, which you can see coming pretty early. So I was thinking either this will happen, or that. One of them then actually happened. So you have a 50/50 chance of being surprised. Normally I hate, when movies are to predictable, but in this case, it didn't actually hurt the film that much. The last scene though (without getting into spoilers) feels just ridiculous and it feels like, its simply there for pure shock value and nothing else to end the film with sort of a jump scare. Overall it's still an entertaining movie, nothing new, nothing to classy but you wont be bored for a minute and that also matters a lot.