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Marina de Van
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Germany in the 1970s. Whilst waiting for his girlfriend, a young student, Franz, allows himself to be picked up by 50-year old businessman, Léopold. In his apartment, Léopold provokes Franz into revealing his homosexual experiences and soon manages to seduce him. Six months later, Frantz has moved in with Léopold and they appear to live as an ordinary married couple. The strain is beginning to show, however, and after a row Frantz threatens to leave. Whilst Léopold is away, Frantz is visited by his former girlfriend, Anna, and their romance is soon rekindled. Before the two lovers can escape, Léopold returns and his charms persuade Anna to stay. Léopold's ex-lover Vera then makes an unexpected appearance and the menagerie is complete...Written by
A decidedly odd, but strangely brilliant little piece
After watching Water Drops on Burning Rocks, it is hard to tell exactly what flamboyant French filmmaker Francois Ozon wanted to achieve with it. On the one hand, the film is a commentary on relationships and sexuality, but on the other hand, much like Ozon's earlier Sitcom, it's easy to think that the talented young director made the film simply to shock. While I don't doubt that shocking his audience was partly his motivation for making this film, Ozon has still created a film that is more than credible on the substance front as the movie professes that, just like the water drops that land on burning rocks of it's title; relationships and love fizzle out over time. The four parties in the play also represent four different points on the sexuality spectrum; we have an old bi-sexual male, a young confused male, a straight female and a male to female transsexual, so the sexuality commentary is on track as well as the comment on relationships in general. Just like Sitcom, also, Ozon always seems keen to push the taboos of the story into the audience's face; and does a good job, as at times it's easy to feel dirty just watching this movie.
The play that the film works from is from the pen of tortured artist Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Francois Ozon seems keen to respect this fact throughout as he makes various tributes to Fassbinder's distinct style. Ozon is also keen to work in tributes to the French new wave cinema; most notably with a very strange dance scene, that, in spite of being off-cue with the rest of the movie, works very well thanks to the energy that Ozon gives the scene. It also serves as something of a relief to the disturbing and downbeat themes of the rest of the movie, and it's the only time that the underlying layer of black humour, which lies dormant for the majority of the piece (although it's definitely there), truly comes to the surface. In today's day and age, there are few filmmakers that are still capable of making a film that will leave the audience with something at the end of it; but it's safe to say that Ozon has managed it with this film. When the final credits rolled, I was unsure as to exactly what I had seen, but as time elapsed and I reflected on the movie; it's brilliance comes to light. While the movie isn't quite worthy of the term 'masterpiece'; it is certainly very good, and it represents another huge feather in the already feather-filled cap of Francois Ozon.
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