Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised by how much I liked 5×2. Fran?s Ozon, whose short films I reviewed last week, shows himself to be quite a master of frank storytelling which avoids clich?and aims for complex truth over easy answers.
Something of an uncut gem, 5×2 is a backwards journey through the unravelling of a modern French couple’s marriage.
We meet Marion (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) and Gilles (St?ane Freiss) at their divorce hearing and then travel backwards through five key chapters in their shared life to the moment they meet at an Italian seaside resort.
This reverse story-telling is something we’ve seen before. Memento used it to confuse us. The confronting Irreversible built sledgehammer tension with it.
Fran?s Ozon uses it to show that the love’s failure is not located in any one moment. Love is not killed off by the mundane routines of domestic life. It’s not in the affairs or occasional orgy. It’s in the simple fact that we aren’t meant to be.
In Ozon’s world, love is many shades of grey. His characters may be flawed, but you don’t find yourself taking sides. Gilles may be a real pig, selfish and unreliable, but you sympathise with him, and perhaps pity him.
And, as is a signature of Ozon’s work, his characters’ sexuality is liable to shift. Gilles tells his gay brother a story about joining in an orgy and taking it up the arse. Marion surprises us on her wedding night after her groom passes out in the honeymoon suite.
As we travel back, Ozon styles each chapter in a distinct film genre. For the divorce scene, Ozon turns to the tense tradition of psychological dramas and surprises with an ultimately confronting moment of post-break-up sex.
He then directs a classic French dinner film, where social mores are subverted and domestic tensions surface over dinner and too much wine. Invariably, we eavesdrop on an angry couple as they scrape off dinner plates and load the dishwasher. Yet with Ozon, this is not a mundane scene but the site of a long-raging sniping battle between Marion and Gilles.
The wedding scene is straight Hollywood with a French twist and the closing scene where the couple meet is homage to the lightness of French director Eric Rohmer’s summer films where the soon-to-be lovers swim off into the sunset to the jangle of a retro Italian love song. A fairytale we know is doomed.
It’s great to see Jodie Foster pull herself away from the cr?e to grace the big screen again in Flightplan. However, it’s a shame to see her fabulous performance as a stressed-out widow whose daughter goes missing aboard a transcontinental flight go to waste in this psychological thriller.
Watching Foster in the magnificent Panic Room just days before seeing Flightplan showed up just how important a great director is.