At this point in the festival, when spirits are flagging and sleep is but a fond memory, a dose of unadulterated craziness is required to see critics through the final stretch. Step forward François Ozon. After a few attempts at mainstream success, he’s reverted to his craziest, most sexually charged instincts with L’Amant Double – which is basically Dead Ringers by way of Brian De Palma, with a dash of Rosemary’s Baby thrown in for good measure.
Beginning with a match cut so outrageous it prompted a round of applause, Ozon settles into the story of Chloé (Marine Vacth), a woman who starts attending therapy in the hope of curing the pains in her stomach. Her therapist Paul (Jérémie Renier) is so handsome, though, that they soon end up violating the ethical code of conduct, in several different rooms and positions. Along with Chloé’s sassy cat, they move into an apartment together, and all is apparent bliss – until she begins to visit a different therapist, who looks an awful lot like her beau… He’s also played by Renier, and he’s revealed to be Paul’s twin brother. Representing two different sides of masculinity, Chloé obviously starts screwing them both, while trying to uncover the reason behind their animosity towards each other.
And that’s just the start of it. Overripe and ridiculous, L’Amant Double is so filled to the brim with pure cinematic imagery and knowing irony, with innuendo and gleeful violations of taste, that it’s hard to resist its barrage of hilarious filth. Cats, mirrors and foetuses are mixed into a heady brew of double-crossing and sex – so much sex, including a memorable sequence involving “pegging”. (If you don’t know it, look it up in private.)
De Palma’s name has been mentioned once, but it demands to be summoned several times over, so clear is this film’s purpose in pushing the boundaries of taste in the name of not-so-guilty entertainment. It’s nonsense, of course – while based on a short story by Joyce Carol Oates, Ozon has only a passing interest in the identity issues of twins, instead devoting his time to titillating, shocking and amusing his audience. It might suffer outside the festival environment, but it’s almost certainly the most fun this critic’s had at Cannes so far.
L’ Amant Double (The Double Lover) does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for L’ Amant Double (The Double Lover) here: