Phil Witte is the copy editor of the Burbank Leader and News-Press.
The end of summer marks not only the time when kids must make the
dreary return to school, but also the wonderful time when movies
based on explosions leave the theaters to be replaced by movies that
Francois Ozon’s “Swimming Pool” is a heady choice to begin the
serious movie season, as viewers will need all of their mental
faculties to decipher this gem of a mystery.
Charlotte Rampling plays Sarah Morton, a popular English mystery
novelist who is tired of both writing mysteries and her popularity.
To recharge her batteries, her publisher gives her the use of his
cottage in the French countryside, which gives Sarah a picturesque
and peaceful venue to write her next book.
That tranquillity is destroyed when the publisher’s French
daughter, Julie (Ludivine Sagnier), arrives to get some peace and
quiet of her own.
Despite their outward differences, the two women share a rapacious
appetite -- Julie for men and Sarah for food. After initially
clashing, the pair’s lives become intertwined when they become
immersed in a mystery, something that Sarah knows quite a lot about.
Rampling is excellent as the icy Sarah, and she obviously relishes
playing such an unlikable character. Sagnier displays a pouty
insolence in the beginning, but shows a genuine vulnerability by the
end, giving her character a full range of emotions.
The film is Ozon’s first English-language effort, but it maintains
his French sensibility, which means “Pool” doesn’t hit the viewer
over the head with obvious symbols and hackneyed plot devices,
leaving it a mystery that must be unraveled as it plays out on
But also fitting to foreign-film sensibilities is an ending that
is so open-ended as to leave the preceding 100 minutes open to many
If you like a film to mean exactly what you want it to mean,
“Pool” is a tightly-plotted, layered and visually pleasing treat
worth seeking out. But if you like structure and closure, “Pool”
might leave you wanting to throw baguettes at the screen.
* “Swimming Pool” is rated R for strong sexual content, nudity,
language, some violence and drug use.
If you would like to see a movie on the newspaper’s tab, become a
reel critic by calling entertainment editor Joyce Rudolph at