"Swimming Pool" and "8 Femmes" director Francois Ozon's new film "5x2" (IMDb listing)
tells the story of a failed marriage in reverse. The
movie opens up with the couple's divorce and continues in backwards
chronology with a
sequence from their married days, the birth of their son, their
wedding and finally the beginning of their relationship.
Marion (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) and Gilles (Stephane Freiss) go to a
hotel room for one last fling after leaving their divorce lawyer's
office. This fling turns out to be a rape when Marion realizes that
she has made a mistake by agreeing to this last date. Following this
sequence, and being introduced to Gilles as a rather appalling
character, Ozon allows us a peek at an earlier evening at the couple's house
where they entertain Gilles' brother and his lover. This is followed by
the third act, the birth of the couple's child. When a complication occurs
and Marion has to have a cesarean, Gilles abandons her at the
hospital, returning only when the crisis has passed.
The fourth act is their wedding night. This is the first time the
audience sees Marion and Gilles completely in love with each other,
unfazed by the hardships of a marriage and before they learn
indifference, disgust and disillusion. After this sequence Ozon takes
us to an Italian beach resort where Marion is
vacationing alone, and Gilles is with then-girlfriend Valerie
(Geraldine Pailhas). The last shot of the movie is Marion and Gilles
going in for a swim, just as the sun starts to rise behind the
As the story progresses -- or rather disentangles -- the first
impression of Gilles as the intimidating husband and Marion as the
acquiescing wife is transformed. Both Gilles and Marion evolve into
real, three-dimensional characters. The shot of Gilles sleeping next
to his little son, and the shot
where Marion returns to their hotel room on their wedding eve portray
the profound and realistic existences of both Gilles and Marion.
In a press interview Ozon says: "I wanted each episode to reflect a different style of cinema, we start with an intense psychological drama, then move into the second part, which is more socially anchored, in the tradition of French cinema. For the wedding, American films were my reference, and for the couple's initial encounter I aimed for something along the lines of [Eric] Rohmer's summer films."
Ozon certainly offers a different cinematic style
for each act of the movie. These stylistic variations enable
Ozon to progress backwards from one sequence to the next with coherence and
ease. This way, the five
episodes feel like five random photographs from the couple's family album, all
taken at different years and occasions. The omission of periods in
between the five episodes allows the viewers to create their
own realities based on personal experiences or interpretations of these episodes.
While a fatalist viewer might perceive the film's final episode as the beginning of the couple's eventual end, a more positive viewer would see it as the foundation of an intimate relationship as any
other, filled with passion, fear and unfortunately, closure. "5x2" lets the audience decide if it is a sad or happy movie, just as it lets them decide where it ends.
Filmfodder Grade: B