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5 X 2 by François OZON
Robert Cottingham

Directed by François Ozon
Writing credits François Ozon (scenario)
Emmanuèle Bernheim (scenario collaborator)
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi .... Marion
Stéphane Freiss ..... Gilles Géraldine
Pailhas .... ................Valérie
Françoise Fabian .... Monique
Michael Lonsdale .... Bernard
Antoine Chappey .... Christophe
Marc Ruchmann ...... Mathieu

I must confess I’ve never got on well with the works of Ozon. His films always seemed too preconceived and stagy for my tasates. They always sound great on paper, but on film, they tend to lose something in the execution. I quite liked 8 women, which brought together the grandes dames of French Cinema, but Swimming Pool, his most recent, was too contrived to be truly enjoyable, although it contained one of the sexiest sights of last year, in a bare Ludivine Signeur sunbathing.

I liked 5X2 better, because the story follows the characters, rather than the other way around. The film uses a reverse chronology structure to tell the marriage of Gilles and Marion in five scenes. At the beginning, they are in a divorce counsel room, and at the end we see how they met. In between, we see them have a son, engage in extramarital affairs, marry and finally break apart, although not in that particular order. The film is good on characterisation, but the structure of the film has the effect of lessening the film’s emotional impact. For instance, its hard for us to believe that the couple can ever be truly happy when we’ve already seen them divorced, and he force himself on her, in the first ten minutes. Also, Ozon gives us no clues as to who might be responsible for their marriage breaking down. I thought that they were both equal. Even when Marion kissed a stranger on her wedding night, I felt that she did it to prove that she loved her husband, as though in a sense it reinforced her love for him.

The film ends with a sunlit beach, and the two lovers (as they are at this point), walking along it. It brings to mind the famous adage that what people want from a film is a tragedy with a happy ending. And then some.
© Robert Cottingham Oct 2005
Robert is a Arts/Film graduate of Portsmouth University

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