Monday, June 22, 2009
François Ozon - 5x2 (2004)
The film opens with said couple, Marion (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) and Gilles (Stephane Freiss) finalizing their divorce. After all of the financial and custodial (in regards to their son) details are ironed out, they retire to a hotel room for a final fling. After the awkward nature of this encounter, we are taken back in time to the couple at home during slightly happier times. Major secrets are revealed when Gilles' brother and male lover are over for dinner; a sign that this marriage is definitely on the rocks.
The couple's problems seem to have started somewhere around the premature birth of their son. After complications arose, Marion had to give birth earlier than expected. When Gilles doesn't even bother showing up during Marion's agonizing labor (the pain medication didn't take), Gilles is taken to task by his mother-in-law as well as his wife.
Going into 5X2 I was completely torn as to what to expect. Mostly intrigued as to how Francois Ozon could follow up Swimming Pool, I was also hesitant that a director was possibly dipping into the backwards storytelling well that is filling up fast. Fortunately, Ozon doesn't fall into the trip of using this method as a gimmick, instead using it to establish from the outset just how truly sad it is when a seemingly endless love dies. It's even more powerful when we see that such a love seemed to come to fruition due to fate, only furthering the argument that there really isn't such a concept.
The lead roles are handled with the utmost professionalism by Bruni-Tedeschi and Freiss. The role of Gilles is one of a man who is seen as a scumbag from the beginning, and Freiss does a great job accepting the challenge of taking these initial perceptions and not only showing us how he became this way, but also trying to drum up at least a little bit of sympathy by the film's final reel.
Bruni-Tedeschi delivers an Oscar-worthy performance, and should actually win such an award for her work in the early, post-divorce sex scene. This sequence is very difficult to watch, as we are still trying to figure out just why this couple is having one last sexual encounter, and then asked to watch Marion go through something that she clearly does not want to happen.
The final shot of 5X2 is breathtaking, showing our couple during the earliest stage of their relationship as they, literally walk off into the sunset. This gorgeous shot is a prime example of how Ozon has really outdone himself with this film, cementing his stance as one of the most compelling and mature directors in the world.
Rating for Style: A