Swimming Pool (2003)
Main cast: Charlotte Rampling (Sarah Morton), Ludivine Sagnier (Julie), Charles Dance (John Bosload), Jean-Marie Lamour (Franck), and Marc Foyelle (Marcel)
Director: François Ozon


I guess the marketing department had to do something to sell the movie, but billing Swimming Pool as an erotic thriller is not a good move at all. Okay, if you like to look at young ladies, Ludivine Sagnier carries the movie in either a tiny bikini or nothing at all. But if you prefer to look at the guys, you're out of luck here, as these fellows look like they have just walked out from the set of a pornographic movie from the 1970s via a detour at the rehab center. It's probably easier to rent an adult flick with Ron Jeremy in the starring role if you want the sexy stuff - same effect, more boinking.

Anyway, we have an author of mystery novels, Sarah Morton, who is suffering from major writer's block. Naturally, her publisher Charles dance does what every editor will do in such a situation: he understandingly lets her use his holiday villa in Lacoste, France, for some R&R. All is going well until Julie shows up at the villa as well. Since she claims to be Charles's daughter, Sarah grudgingly lets her stay. It isn't long before Julie starts partying and bringing back a parade of ugly guys in uglier underwear to shag. Sarah, like every stereotypical Englishwoman, is disgusted by such behavior, and worse, she can't concentrate on her book anymore. Or is it because she's harboring some creepy fascination-jealousy towards Julie? After all, isn't it every frigid woman's dream to be sexy and star in every man's wet dream? Things come to a head (heh) when Julie makes a move on Franck, an ugly guy that Sarah for reason takes a fancy to.

Swimming Pool is a watchable but oh so silly movie, something pretentiously vapid that only the French can come up. You know, if it's paced excruciatingly slowly and contains gratuitous nudity, then it's art, not crap. Ms Sagnier doesn't have much to do other than to be naked and sullen, and Mr Lamour waves a prosthetic penis around once, so it is up to Charlotte Rampling to save the day by being the only person here that exhibits more than one facial expression. As Sarah Morton, Ms Rampling steals the show from her cast members by displaying an amazing array of three facial expressions: sullen, wide-eyed disgust, and annoyed.

The plot itself is full of clichés. The oh-so-typical culture clash of stereotypes, where the British are stiff-lipped, frigid and joyless twats who secretly want to be like the French, who are oh so gorgeous, sexy, and spread like hot butter to guys every day, every night, all week long. Oh, and authors are people who can afford to spend all day in their dressing gown, waiting for the muse to come, while the money mysteriously keep coming to keep them from having to get a day job. Oh, and when things get rough, their publisher always offer them a paid vacation to some exotic place to catch some R&R. And it's really easy to get new publishing deals - just pick up the phone and ta-da, it's done.

Top the whole load of nonsense off with some third-rate attempt to pass the plot off as some kind of movie adaptation of a story by Agatha Christie and Swimming Pool comes off like a tedious masturbatory exercise passed off as art. Perhaps this is art - the art of gazing at one's navel and imagining that the whorls of hair around the belly button are the new marvel of a masterpiece.

Rating: 68


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