His most recent film, Frantz,
was a half-remake of Ernst Lubitsch’s Broken
Lullaby with the narrative perspective rearranged; L’Amant Double is a dead ringer for Dead Ringers, David Cronenberg’s psychological horror about twin
gynaecologists (again, with the perspective rearranged), that includes multiple
visual borrowings from Vertigo and Psycho.
Dead Ringers as
remade by Hitchcock sounds, at worst, reliably thrilling. But Ozon’s version is
more reminiscent of 50 Shades of Grey via
Frasier, and about as ludicrous as
It’s a ripe gorgonzola of a film, about as easy to take
seriously as an Eddie Izzard sketch of French cinema. It does have the good
grace to be enjoyably atrocious, at least; and anyway you get the impression
that Ozon’s not that bothered what anyone thinks. The prolific director will
probably be making something new soon anyway.
We are introduced to Chloé (Marine Vacth) via her vagina.
It’s not immediately clear where the camera is pointing, but it slowly reveals
itself to be peering down the barrel of a speculum. Chloé is getting a check-up
because she’s plagued by abdominal pains; her gynaecologist thinks it might be
psychosomatic, and recommends a therapist.
Paul (Jérémie Renier) turns out to be both helpful and
hunky. Despite the effectiveness of his sessions with Chloé, he soon brings
them to a close: he is simply too enamoured of his patient to maintain a purely
professional relationship with her. The two share a passionate kiss, and before
you know it they’re moving in together.
But Paul has a secret, and Chloé doesn’t have to do much
digging to find out what it is. Her beau has a twin called Louis, also a
therapist, who has a practice just across town. In the interests of snooping,
she surreptitiously books a session with this more sinister brother, and soon
finds herself caught up in Louis’ ‘unorthodox’ therapeutic methods (hint: they
are sexy methods).
It’s all supposedly a take on Self and Other, on the Freudian
concept of Transference, and etc etc... ideas pushed on the audience by
bulldozer symbolism. There are mirrors everywhere
in L’Amant Double; Chloé can’t walk
down a corridor without being ‘significantly’ reflected in some shiny surface
or other, and Ozon’s film will make a great drinking game.
Drink every time a mirror makes Chloé into ‘twins’. Drink whenever an actual twin is reflected in a mirror. Drink whenever
a mirror reflects another mirror showing a twin having sex. Finish your drink
whenever the screen bifurcates to show two different perspectives of a twin
looking at Chloé, as reflected in four separate mirrors. Drink every time you
see a cat (there are cats everywhere).
Somehow, toward the end, L’Amant
Double actually achieves the thing that it’s spent most of its running
length laboriously spelling out: the uncanny. It bursts through the lower level
of its own badness and briefly becomes an effective horror.
But its hit-and-miss scariness will only secure its status as a favourite for fans the so-bad-it’s-good genre. It’s unclear whether such a genre is eligible for the Palme D’Or. We kind of hope so.
|What||L'Amant Double film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
26 May 17 – 26 Jul 17, Times vary
|Price||£Determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more information|