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SWIMMING POOL

A fastidious, self-absorbed writer of mysteries seeks seclusion at the country home of her publisher, but her privacy is disturbed by the unexpected arrival of his brazen, outrageously promiscuous daughter.

CAST: Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier, Charles Dance, Marc Fayolle, Jean-Marie Lamour, Mireille Mosse

DIRECTOR: Francois Ozon

"Think of Francois Ozon's astringent ‘Swimming Pool’ as a novel by Georges Simenon set in a painting by David Hockney. It's one of those intimate French dramas of psychological manipulation and murder… the young French actress Ludivine Sagnier is fabulous, a perfect sparring mate for the icy Rampling…The tension is never crushing, as it would be in an American job. Instead, it grows by increments, until you realize the movie, in its quiet way, has you snared entirely. And that's even before the first murder." --Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post

"It’s Ozon’s first film in English, which perhaps explains the slightly tone-deaf quality of many of the scenes. Everyone seems to be speaking phonetically. Rampling plays a brittle English writer of murder mysteries who retreats to the country home of her publisher (Charles Dance) in the south of France. Her peace and quiet is interrupted by the appearance of the publisher’s French sexpot daughter, Julie (Ludivine Sagnier), who is so much more entertaining than the repressed novelist that you ardently wish she’d run off with the movie…Ozon has a smooth gift for scenes of unease, but ultimately ‘Swimming Pool’ liquifies into a dreary puzzle movie. --Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

"Whereas Ms. Rampling is an actress of infinite nuance — as shown in her wrenching, ravishing performance in Mr. Ozon's ‘Under the Sand’ two years ago — Ms. Sagnier's appeal lies in her directness. She wields her sexual magnetism casually and with the merest dash of self-conscious cruelty… Mr. Ozon is as perverse as he is resourceful, so he slyly turns his delicate study in generational and cross-cultural sexual rivalry into a suspense thriller…‘Swimming Pool’ is simultaneously a thoroughly mannered, mischievously artificial confection and an acute piece of psychological realism. Whose psychology, and which reality, remains ambiguous even after the tart, delicious final twist." --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"French director Francois Ozon says that audiences can make whatever they want of the events in his offbeat mystery ‘Swimming Pool,’ and I take that to mean he never quite got it straight in his own mind…Is the movie to be taken literally? As fantasy? As a combination, and if so, where does one end and the other begin?…The whole thing is definitely a tease, and, I think, a lovely one. Rampling is superb, going beyond the call for a scene that has her lying nude while the camera pans her entire body. It's a courageous indulgence for a 58-year-old actress, especially coming after we've seen miles of footage of the voluptuous and usually nude 23-year-old Sagnier." --Jack Mathews, The New York Daily News

"As Charlotte Rampling's blocked mystery-writer protagonist blurs reality and fantasy, the psychological intrigue evaporates and this meditation on bad-faith art becomes an example of same…‘Swimming Pool’ is less a thriller than a comedy, and a formulaic one at that, predicated on an amusing but bizarrely simplistic clash of personalities and cultures: the veddy English old maid and the ooh-la-la French slut…‘Swimming Pool’ is primarily a range-expanding showcase for the superb Rampling, who has as much fun with Sarah's squinty, purse-lipped shrewishness as with her bumbling but eventually triumphant sexualization." --Dennis Lim, The Village Voice

"Ozon misses some chances with Sarah, but Rampling doesn't skip a beat. Freed from the burden of likability, the actress pushes the character from near-farce to near-tragedy, without once appealing to sentimentalism. Even when Ozon almost blows the film's ending with a tidy psychological explanation, Rampling hangs onto ambiguity as firmly as she did in ‘Under the Sand.’" --Manohla Dargis, The Los Angeles Times

"In ‘Swimming Pool,’ Ozon and his ‘Under the Sand’ star Charlotte Rampling reassert their inspired alliance with such brio and mutuality, one experiences the thrill of a director connecting with his great platonic muse…‘Swimming Pool’ smolders with held-back eroticism and brain-teasing enigmas: Ozon makes us feel the woozy heat of the Provençal sun searing into legs and loins…Segnier -- pouty, petulant and alluring -- is tautly matched opposite the blistering watchfulness of Rampling, who does a wordless, pot-infused party dance that is a master class in acting." --Jan Stuart, Newsday

"Ozon has fused the disparate talents of two of his favorite leading ladies, and their charged interplay is a joy to watch…Along with co-writer Emmanuele Bernhein, Ozon -- who films Rampling's startlingly perfect 57-year-old body just as lovingly as Sagnier's ripe young one -- has crafted a contemplative blend of fantasy and reality that illuminates the mysteries of the creative process. Unfortunately, the clumsy twist in the tail has the effect of deflating much of what's gone before." --Megan Lehmann, The New York Post

"After it is over, you will want to go back and think things through again, and I can help you by suggesting there is one, and only one, interpretation that resolves all of the difficulties, but if I told you, you would have to kill me." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times