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Overall Rating

Awesome: 28.1%
Worth A Look35.54%
Just Average: 8.26%
Pretty Crappy: 19.83%
Sucks: 8.26%

5 reviews, 91 user ratings

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Swimming Pool
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by Robert Flaxman

"Drowns under its own pretensions."
2 stars

You’ve really got to hand it to François Ozon. Evidently, he realized that the film he was making had little to its name besides a whole bunch of gratuitous nudity. Surely, this alone was not going to make for a successful movie. So, Ozon did what he knew he had to do if this movie were going to become one of the most talked about of the year (as apparently it has) - he threw in a surprise ending that cast questions on the entire film that had preceded it.

This is always good for a filmmaker, for two reasons. One, it gets people talking about the ending (they may end up saying, “What an awful ending,” but there’s always the hope that they’ll tell their friends, “You just have to see this one for the ending twist”), and thus about the film. Two, it prevents critics from complaining too much about the film. If the ending is tied in too much with the rest of the film, it’s hard to find things to complain about while not giving away the ending - and keeping endings secret, no matter how stupid, is a sacred reviewers’ tenet.

Thus, I will try not to discuss the end of Swimming Pool, but I will say this much right now: for a surprise ending - a device I am more often than not a fan of - the ending is really bad.

Fortunately for me, what precedes the ending is just as bad in its own way, mostly because nothing happens. In the 100 minutes prior to the ending, the following happens: Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling) is an author whose publisher suggests she take some time at his house in France to overcome her writer’s block. She does and it works, until the publisher’s free-spirited French daughter Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) shows up and starts walking around in various states of undress. Sarah is annoyed, but eventually she decides to write about Julie instead, and then Julie kills some guy for no reason and Sarah helps her cover it up.

I have no problem disclosing this last bit because it is in no way relevant to the plot. In fact, pretty much nothing that happens in Swimming Pool is relevant to the plot because there pretty much is no plot. “Author writes about one thing, then writes about something else” is not exactly riveting drama, and Swimming Pool basically unfolds as a series of loosely connected events that don’t mean much of anything when taken as a whole.

Of course, Ozon foresaw this line of detraction as well. At the end of the film, just before the terrible ending, Sarah hands her publisher her new novel. He doesn’t like it - he thinks it’s “too subtle.” Sarah expected this and announces she already signed with another publisher who loved it and they released it. The book is titled, in cloyingly meta-referential fashion, Swimming Pool. The message to critics is clear: if you didn’t like it, you must have been too uptight to get it.

What Ozon can’t escape is that there’s nothing to “get” about this movie. I think he wants to be like David Lynch or something; that would explain the nudity, and the gardener’s daughter, who is needlessly bizarre-looking, and the random shots that I guess are supposed to be dream sequences (but even for dream sequences, they mean next to nothing). Nothing in the rest of the movie justifies the pointlessness of these scenes. Ozon also starts several different plot strands, and just when you think, “Hey, this movie might be going somewhere,” he drops them abruptly and with no resolution at all.

The tagline on the poster I saw was “Dive into this summer’s sexiest mystery.” I can think of at least two things wrong with this tagline. First of all, the film isn’t sexy; if Showgirls left one imprint on Hollywood, it was the notion that too much nudity crossed the line from erotic to stultifying. And second, it’s not a mystery. There’s only one plot strand with any mystery to it, but it can’t be much of a mystery if Ozon doesn’t feel he needs to tell the audience the outcome, which he doesn’t.

Some people, as noted above, might recommend a movie like this on the basis of the ending. In fact, that was one of my prime motivations for seeing it, because, as I said, I usually like twist endings. But I’m not going to let you make the same mistake.

Skip Swimming Pool. You’ll only end up feeling cheated.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=7810&reviewer=385
originally posted: 10/11/04 04:22:19
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/12/16 Johnb274 you have a terrific blog here! would you like to make some invite posts on my weblog? aeaeg 5 stars
7/11/16 Johnc0 I really appreciate this post. I have been looking everywhere for this! Thank goodness I fo 5 stars
1/14/11 WYNN What a great site. Very impressive!!! Your site is an Internet resource. I'd like to put a 5 stars
9/29/10 aryan so nice 1 stars
12/30/09 name comment6, 4 stars
9/14/09 alexk570 Very nice site! 5 stars
1/14/07 David Pollastrini Ludivine Sagnier is hot! 4 stars
12/18/06 Charles Tatum Sagnier is a joy to look at 3 stars
12/04/06 Lynne Intriging but found the ending unsatisfying. 4 stars
6/27/06 popy xxx 5 stars
5/20/06 anil gurung it is fantastic 5 stars
12/18/05 Bree This movie looked so cool and was very disappointed. Ending was okay though. 2 stars
10/10/05 Morten A movie that demands action from the viewer (needs to be interoperated to make sense). 5 stars
8/09/05 kristen interesting film 4 stars
7/31/05 candence I got sucked in because it looked interesting but the ending gave NO closure! MEANINGLESS! 1 stars
5/27/05 mike sexy chick, captivating story 4 stars
5/25/05 Michael H. Korman Great movie, the performances are fabuous, the ending twists into what? 5 stars
4/30/05 Eleanor Pretending to be smart. But does't change the fact that it's crap. 1 stars
2/04/05 Cyn A. Matique Great story, great cinematography, and tons of female full frontal nudity...a must see! 5 stars
10/16/04 Pollo Good photography, boring movie, interesting final. 3 stars
10/11/04 Jim very good 4 stars
9/19/04 denny interesting; challenging 4 stars
9/19/04 Andy deGaust Excellent, thought provoking story line 5 stars
8/30/04 Jeff The ending cheats you out of what would otherwise be a nice movie-watching experience 1 stars
7/26/04 humpa very intriguing 5 stars
7/26/04 Lisa Lussier I liked it a lot 4 stars
7/19/04 Phil M. Aficionado It's pretty bad, actually, bad pacing, unbelievable plot twists. But Rampling is great. 3 stars
7/14/04 The More You Know everytime it's about to induce a coma, it flashes skin w/ the hyperbare-it shots. 3 stars
7/08/04 fanboy malcolm i didn't get it. probly deserves a 2nd look. lotsa nudity is always good though. 2 stars
6/13/04 XTC Over-rated Hollywood crap. The sight of Charlotte Rampling naked made me sick. 2 stars
5/13/04 Lori makes most people who watch it feel stupid at the end. Id like to bitchslap the WRITER 2 stars
4/20/04 someone it sucks 1 stars
4/11/04 Wildcarde1 I had heard so much and was expecting something special, i never got it 2 stars
3/26/04 morgan hayes Glorious,the best film i've seen this year. 5 stars
3/24/04 William Greene Excellent movie 5 stars
3/19/04 Candice Heath didn't understand the end! 4 stars
3/17/04 lodger16 slow, snobbishly overclever 3 stars
2/18/04 TheRealDude Bullshit Bullshit Bullshit. The last 2 minutes ruin a good film. 2 stars
2/06/04 Mike Ennis I liked the film, I just wish the ending would have been a little more complete. 4 stars
1/26/04 twodogs It's a better than average indy movie. 3 stars
1/25/04 Jason Entertaining, interesting story, well written, and some very nice nude shots of sagnier 4 stars
1/14/04 Betty White Rampling is powerful and convincing in this lavish film. 5 stars
12/30/03 helen delicious 5 stars
12/28/03 y2mckay Don't think I can say it much better than Childress - though that Sagnier has fine titties 2 stars
11/25/03 The Dude Meandering, pompus. 2 stars
10/25/03 Richard M. Cooper This film provoked good discussions. 4 stars
10/20/03 Rebecca what a special movie; hot! 5 stars
10/13/03 Helen Bradley Great acting and script. 5 stars
9/08/03 Bill Teommey Would you bury the body in your own back yard? 1 stars
9/04/03 Darlene Groetz Deux zombies des baguette tragique qui assassinent et couvrent le crime. Fort bien! 1 stars
9/01/03 Carl Huber Messes with your mind, figuring out what is meant to be "real". 4 stars
9/01/03 whatever i didnt get it AT ALL!!! 1 stars
8/29/03 Elias Copularus see this movie 4 stars
8/25/03 Amanda and Jovan Intriguing and stimulating to the mind and erotic senses! 5 stars
8/25/03 Bill Geftman I dont get the ending. others who viewed this movie were also confused. 3 stars
8/21/03 Priscilla Postlethwaite Would-be who-dun-it in search of an it. 2 stars
8/20/03 Jin This film will raise your bp and open your mind. 5 stars
8/19/03 Wayne Provocative ending. Was Julie real or imagined? 4 stars
8/19/03 Suzanne Sexy, thought provoking 5 stars
8/18/03 Charlotte Voyeuristic, good summer puzzle but little real substance 3 stars
8/15/03 tk made me think and made me horny...what else would you want? 5 stars
8/12/03 Kelly Was Julie for real? Did John really have two daughters? 4 stars
8/12/03 shelley stults i feel asleep 3 stars
8/10/03 Varun Subtle, yet satisfying 4 stars
8/10/03 Bill Halsey I thought of David Lynch 5 stars
8/10/03 aimee auby the ending made me think 4 stars
8/08/03 UnkleTim I love when I am still thinking of a movie days after I have seen it. This is one . 4 stars
8/08/03 jc i liked it 4 stars
8/08/03 Holly Beach I agree w/Patrik; bring your brains; it's not about the "plot" 5 stars
8/06/03 Rebecca Keeshen Beautiful film; loved the performances 4 stars
8/05/03 Johann Lots of sex, lots of tension, but promises made that were never fulfilled. 4 stars
8/04/03 Ishkabibble Slow, dull and boring. Was there really a mystery in there? 1 stars
8/04/03 Winston Beautiful girl makes the movie HAPPEN. 5 stars
8/03/03 Alan A bit slow at times but worth it in the end 4 stars
8/02/03 JD Boudacious Tah-tahs 3 stars
8/02/03 Charles Nettles It's a hoax. 1 stars
7/29/03 amir I enjoyed the film immensly here in Washington, D.C. I am curious, who sings the disco "Do 5 stars
7/28/03 Jean Perrin Twists and turns, Hitchcockian in tone 4 stars
7/28/03 Patrik Americans are too dumb to understand what this movie is about..... 5 stars
7/28/03 c.g Not bad 4 stars
7/27/03 bama didn't like the "say wha?" ending - other than that - excellent 4 stars
7/26/03 Kirsty Excellent, definitely worth watching, not stupid Hollywood, makes you THINK 5 stars
7/26/03 Linda Puzzling but fun. see with friends & decipher over dinner! 4 stars
7/16/03 MC it was good. kinda show, but worth the plot twists. 4 stars
7/15/03 Emperor's New Clothes Pfft. The French think they are sooo witty. Creme Brulee for the eyes. I hate Creme Brulee. 2 stars
7/12/03 Andrew like memento, there are many ways of interpreting the ending. see it. 4 stars
7/10/03 Jesus Relaxed but also disturbing in a believable fashin. Camera work is great. 4 stars
7/07/03 amanda Trailer was promising, but the film was disappointing and confusing. Missed the mark. 2 stars
7/06/03 bernieK Luxuriously sensual, slow paced. A wonderful summer adult film when so little is available. 4 stars
7/06/03 Lisa intelligent, fun, will make you rethink the film over and over 5 stars
7/05/03 rue the whirl cinematic masturbation. bring hand lotion. hbs sucks, too...heehee 2 stars
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  02-Jul-2003 (R)
  DVD: 13-Jan-2004



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