Sex, fetish and seductive insecurities are all themes to expect in this latest release from French director François Ozon. Renowned for his laissez-faire attitude towards the exploitation of human sexuality through the medium of film, the auteur has now taken the key tenets by which he has built the foundations of his “cinema of the body” style, and incorporated scientific and psychological principles into a contextual package with peculiar and shocking results. This is L’Amant Double.
In what can only be described as a picture with erotic pulsations rushing through every vein, young actress Marine Vacth portrays a vulnerable and unstable soul named Chloé. As the piece opens, she sits in a chair, her hair wet and taught. The doorways to her soul are dark and sullen, depicting an individual with unexplained suffering, as sharpened scissors remove the locks obscuring her identity. With the recommendation of psychological therapy, the protagonist visits psychoanalyst Paul (Jeremie Renier), with whom she finds comfort and love. After moving in with him a few months later, Chloe soon discovers that the man she fell in love with may not be as honest as he appears, thus beginning a sexual exploration of his darkest secrets.
It is instantly evident that this feature is yet another child of Ozon’s visionary wonder and sensual appreciation, with intimate camera work providing erotic liberation not only for the actors on screen but the audience too. The movie is audibly laid down in a hyperbolic state, with particular accentuations on the sounds of skin touching, rain falling and even felines purring. Connecting the cast with such an amplified ambience builds a sense of intrigue and unity amongst the characters on screen and their surroundings, perhaps suggesting that once humans are broken down to their instincts, we are no different the other animals and elements that surround us.
It is not always easy for actors to perform such visceral tasks and motions in front of a camera when the actions themselves appear only in heated moments of sexual tension (if ever at all), but this appears to be the simplest of feats to the ever-talented Vacth and the experienced Renier, who ooze chemistry as they waltz from varying scenes graced with an orchestral accompaniment. The two stars seem to fit into the filmmaker’s visionary glove as if they were the fingers, depicting scenes of surprising and outlandish nature with a complete naturalism that makes the content appear second nature and perfectly acceptable on any screen.
Perhaps it is the expertise of the cast and past experiences of the director that mean L’Amant Double just simply works, but with the feature being selected for consideration for the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2017, it would be unsurprising if this romantic thriller found its target audience with relative success upon release to the public. Think 50 Shades of Grey, but with far more panache.
L’Amant Double is released in select cinemas on 1st June 2018.
Watch the trailer for L’Amant Double here: