Monday, May 24, 2021

La Piscine

Jacques Deray’s La Piscine (l969), currently in revival at Film Forum is distinguished by its total lack of irony. Jean-Paul (Alan Delon) is an alcoholic writer, “who always wants what he doesn’t have.” Having temporarily given up his dreams, he's on the wagon. He’s taken a prosaic job at an advertising agency, but finds himself the miraculous beneficiary of a luxury villa on the Riviera which he occupies with his sexy girlfriend, Marianne (Romy Schneider) who proclaims “when I’m with you it’s all I need.” If opposites attract Jean-Paul and Marianne perfectly complement each other. BTW,  it was Romy Schneider not Alan Delon who was the alcoholic in real life. It’s a stereotype party with Delon in his sunglasses and cigarette dangling out of the side of his mouth and Schneider’s wardrobe changes limited mostly to slipping out of a bikini and into a one piece. Bodies bodies everywhere. These two can't keep their hands off each other, though each actual sexual encounter involves scratching and in one case whipping with a branch. Enter Harry (Maurice Ronet), the wealthy record producer driving a revved up sports car he affectionately calls “his monster," his sullen daughter Penelope (played by Jane Birkin of Blow-Up fame) in tow. The predictable cocktail of emotions with the ubiquitous and totemic bottle of Johnny Walker produces a drama which is basically interesting from anthropological point of view--like a survey of  some extinct civilization or ancien regime.The 60s fruggers fresh off the beach at St. Tropez add to the ebullient predictability. Hard to believe Jean-Claude Carriere, famous for The Unbearable Lightness of Being, wrote this leaden screenplay. Delon and Schneider are filmic examples of planned obsolescence. The bored writer in the strained relationship is at first reminiscent of Godard’s Contempt; the decadence recall L’Avventura (1961) minus the philosophy. The pool of the title does take on a mythological significance to the extent that one of the characters drowns in his own reflection—albeit with a little help from his friend(s).

Read Francis Levy's review of Philip Kaufman's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Screaming Pope

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