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In Frame: Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool, Francois Ozon‘s tense drama about (the nature of fiction/being a writer/sexy French sex) is a masterpiece. Throughout my first viewing, I rewound over and over again to grab screens of some of its most impressive shots. Here are a few of my favorites (some NSFW).

In Swimming Pool, Charlotte Rampling plays mystery/crime novelist Sarah Morton, who goes to her publisher’s secluded home in France to work on her next novel. These three screens are from a single shot that pans slowly from the left to the right, then back to the middle as Morton types. Inspired, she looks up and smirks. Cut.

The slow movement from shoulder to shoulder serves to wind up tension in the otherwise static scene. I half expected to see someone or something behind her every time the camera moved.

Ludivine Sagnier plays Morton’s publisher’s daughter, Julie, who shows up unannounced and is the catalyst for the film’s core drama. She and Morton spend much of their time sneaking around behind each other’s backs and are often framed comparatively. One shot often comes long after you’ve forgotten about the first. “That looks familiar,” you’ll think. But what does it all mean?

I’ve illustrated the effect with the two easy examples above, but there are many more throughout the film. Watch it and spot them for yourself!

This frame (and the scene it’s from) encapsulates the two characters’ relationships with and attitudes towards one another shortly after they meet. Morton, dressed in a long sleeve shirt, wearing sunglasses, and working by the pool while Julie lazes around naked, pestering her with questions. These people are opposites, and they do not immediately attract.

I include this frame for two important reasons. Firstly, it is the single most French screen I have ever grabbed. Is that a stereotype, or is it a pretty lady smoking a cigarette in the bath? Probably both.

Secondly, and I have to admit to my selfish motives here, posts with nudity get the most hits. My first post to this blog, on Splice and Sexuality, gets more daily page views than the rest of this humble website combined. Maybe this one will bring more eyes to The Movies online?

Swimming Pool, now streaming on Netflix Instant.

In any case, watch the movie and let me know what you think! I welcome spoilers in the comments.