Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun

Udo Keir, the patron saint of everything that exists in the universe, shows up in Dario Argento's film Suspiria for a couple of minutes smack-dab in the center, just long enough to utter the film's most famous line: "Bad luck isn't brought by broken mirrors, but by broken minds." I couldn't help but hear that line echoing through my head while watching François Ozon's new erotic thriller Double Lover, which probably should have been titled Broken Mirrors Broken Minds given how often characters are refracted by mirrors, by one another, by their own anguished mental states... it's basically The Lady From Shanghai's hall of mirrors scene in feature film form. Just with intra-vaginal cinematography standing in for Orson Welles.

Chloe (Marine Vacth) is sick. Her gynecologist says so. But they can't figure out what's wrong, at least not via her intimate parts, so in the long tradition of women being told it's all in their head she's shipped off to a psychologist. But it's not so shabby - when our private parts aren't cooperating may we all be so fortunate as to be shipped off to a psychologist as hot as Paul, whom Jérémie Renier plays as the most sensitive bearded sweater model in all the high-end catalogs.

Paul gets inside of Chloe's head pretty quick, and sure enough, rules and codes of conduct be damned, that's not all he gets inside of. (Listen, Francois isn't being subtle so I don't have to be either.) Ozon shoots their therapy sessions like a dream sequence from Persona, their selves evaporating, enveloping, becoming one. It's good for Chloe - two gorgeous people falling in love is good for anybody, up to and including me sitting in the theater watching them do it when they're naked this much - and her sickness goes away. They move in together, they buy bookshelves, -everything is great.

Until it isn't. Is Paul who he says he is? As soon as Chloe starts unpacking his things a passport tumbles out with another name on it. He hates her cat. He has all kinds of secrets sewn into the linings of his garments, and Chloe's tum-tum starts getting oogy again. That's when she sees him. Another him. Another Paul. Only his name is Louis. She follows him. Funnily enough he is also a psychologist. She goes to see him. He's not nearly as nice and docile as Paul is, but funny enough it turns out he has a twin brother...

Double Lover is twice as much everything. It's Hitchcock told not just by Brain DePalma but also by David Cronenberg. Why wear one heart on your sleeves when you can wear two, and why wear any hearts if they aren't deformed ones with the wrong number of ventricles? That's what I always say anyway, and it's good to know Francois Ozon says the same thing! I feel kismet.

This movie is all flash, all mirror surfaces and glossy Euro style, and all genre conceits unfolding like flowers devouring flowers, but my god is it my kind of bouquet. It's sleazy in the best way, stupid in the best way - it's a very smart man having a blast digging through other's people's trash, making a beautiful high-price sculpture out of banana peels and used condoms and pee-stained pregnancy tests. There isn't a frame in this thing that I wouldn't hang up in a fancy gallery, and then immediately flop onto the floor before and touch myself to right there in front of everybody.

1 comment:

Basti said...

it reminded me alot of "rosemarys baby" ... i haven't read the book by joyce carol oates yet, but either she was inspired by Polanski or Ozon was.