" I’ll be monitoring your frequency "
— Zoe Saldana, Star Trek

MRQE Top Critic

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Charlotte Rampling, who worked with director-auteur Francois Ozon in 2001’s Beneath the Sand, plays Sarah Morton, a British murder-mystery novelist who hopes to reawaken her muse in her publisher’s French cottage. She’s just settling in when the publisher’s teenaged daughter Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) arrives. Julie plays loud music, invites friends over, and commandeers the kitchen, careless that she’s disturbing Sarah’s R & R.

After a time, Swimming Pool looks like a movie where two women will overcome their differences and become unlikely friends. But Ozon packs more friction and plot into that simple scenario. Sarah does eventually warm up to Julie, but only after she decides to use her as source material for her next novel. Julie warms to Sarah too, but by the end we see she was hiding some facts about herself.

An English novelist tries to get som R & R
An English novelist tries to get som R & R

I won’t say more, not only because I don’t want to give anything away, but also because I’m not entirely sure what to make of the movie. It’s a deft, straightforward character study, but Ozon reveals a mystery at the end that allows you to replay the movie in a new light. Ozon’s twist, if that’s what to call it, lies midway between M. Night Shyamalan and David Lynch. It’s not shockingly clear, nor is it random and baffling. One gets the sense that another viewing followed by a lively conversation with friends would lead to all sorts of insights, even if it didn’t reveal a single, objective truth.