5x2 - Film bon tellement
| I didn’t discover the work of François Ozon until Sous le sable an engaging film about a woman who must put her life back together after her husband vanishes off the face of the earth. However since then, I have been intrigued by everything he’s done. This is equally true of his latest film 5x2.
5x2 has a fun gimmick. The story is told backwards, a la Momento but instead of being a crime film, 5x2 is the story of a marriage. As reflected in the title, there are 5 scenes featuring the 2 halves of the couple. It begins with their divorce, continues into a dinner party with friends, the birth of their child, their wedding and finally the way they met.
The gimmick works on quite a few levels. Most obviously, 5x2 is the inverse of every love story that we are used to. Love stories are ubiquitous in western cinema (and western culture in general) but are almost exclusively the stories of “boy meets girl” (rarely “girl meets girl” or other equally interesting variations), their courtship and their declarations of love for each other. We never see beyond the wedding if we are lucky enough to get that far.
In 5x2 we begin with the divorce. Just like in the typical romantic story, we are working towards the moment of love but this time we come from the end of it first. And it’s a brutal end. While not as dramatic as an American film may have been, the end of this couple’s love is bitter in the way only the French can be bitter.
Therefore we are heading towards the ironically happy beginning which, in typical French fashion, turns out not to be that happy after all.
Ozon is a master storyteller and here he has crafted a beautifully dark (but not hopeless) look at the nature of love. Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Stéphane Freiss are both sexy and damaged in that alluring European way that helps to sell the story. The film manages to be both critical of romance without dismissing it entirely. There is a certain sentimentality to the film which is emphasised by the ending being a moment of anticipation even if we do know we are heading for doom.
While not as flashy as his work on Swimming Pool and 8 Femmes, 5x2 is still quite an impressive piece of work and certainly enjoyable.