Review Date: August 01, 2003
Director: Francois Ozon
Writer: Francois Ozon, Emmanuele Bernheim
Producers: Marc Missonier, Olivier Delbosc
Charlotte Rampling as Sarah Morton
Ludivine Sagnier as Julie
Charles Dance as John
The film starts off very slowly with several dialogue-less scenes meant to translate the older woman's lifestyle (think "art-house" flick), but once things moved to the gorgeous scenery of France, the sequences began to resonate at a higher pitch, with the antagonism between the two ladies, successfully developing both the story and the background of the characters. What was strange to me was that I really enjoyed the film up until its final act when a drastic event simply didn't "work" for me. I didn't buy the way that the characters handled that specific situation, but was still willing to forgive the film, since I had truly enjoyed spending time with the two leads up to that point. Then, a final revelation suddenly changed my opinion on all of that as well, at which point I realized that there was more to what I thought there was in the film, and quite appreciated the surprise (especially in this summer of the repeat). All that to say that if you appreciate character-driven stories, if you like watching movies that require you to think about them afterwards, if you enjoy small-scale films that scrape beneath the surface and ask for your participation in their unfolding and if you enjoy foreign films (this is a "French film", although most of it is spoken in English), do yourself a favor, skip the latest Hollywood blockbuster this coming weekend and go out of your way to find this movie playing in your town. I won't pretend that I completely "got" the film once everything was said and done, but I would love to watch it again and discuss my interpretations with others afterwards. Note how the film's lead character is best known for writing "whodunits" and how the vagueness of its conclusion relies on interpreting all of the events that came before it. One of my favorite films of the summer.