L’Amant Double – François Ozon

Ozon’s  L’Amant Double failed to pick up any prizes at this year’s Cannes Film Festival which is not to say his take on Joyce Carole Oate’s Lives of the Twins is without merit. This erotic thriller does the job of keeping the audience guessing and is full of entertaining filmic references and cinematic devices. But therein lies the problem. Without the tricks and léger de main, Ozon’s film is empty and heartless.  And then there are the off beat scenes which may or may not be there to amuse the audience which include a gynecologist-eyed view of the female body and a long scene involving a sex toy. The ‘evil-twin, good twin’ also has a limited shelf life.  It’s a devise more often found in daytime TV soap operas than on the big screen and it’s hard to take seriously. Ozon is a prolific director who has produced a film practically every year for the past 10 years.  No two films are alike and he freely plays with different styles and genre.  He has directed films as diverse as the award winning 8 Women, In the House and A New Friend.  But L’Amant Double is not the best showcase for his talent.

After suffering from an unidentified medical condition for many years, Chloë (Marine Vacth) decides to consult a psychotherapist  Paul (Jérémie Renier). The two fall in love and  plan to marry until Chloë starts to suspect her fiancé is leading a double life.  Paul is reticient about his family and hides from Chloë the existence of an identical twin brother, Louis, who is also a practising therapist although his methods are far more unconventional than his brothers.  It’s not long before Chloë is being treated by Louis with disastrous results.
Renier delighted audiences with his award winning performance as the French iconic pop idol Claude François in Florent-Emilio Siris’ 2012 film Cloclo.  He’s a versatile actor with a magnetic screen presence which is kept firmly under wraps in L’Amant Double where he seems wooden and ill at ease. Vacth, who was excellent in Ozon’s Young and Beautiful, has a fragile beauty similar to Mia Farrow in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby – a film L’Amant Double ressembles.  But her performance is flat and unexceptional. And It’s down to English actress Jacqueline Bisset to add some real interest and intrigue.

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