Double Lover (L’amant Double)

French provocateur Francois Ozon is at it again, this time tackling the 1987 Joyce Carol Oates novel Lives of the Twins. He probably figured that with Fifty Shades Freed being released last week, he’ll up the ante a bit. And I’m sure many critics will buy this as “art” instead of as ridiculous as Fifty Shades.

It’s a shame, because Ozon can be an interesting storyteller in various genres. Under the Sand, 8 Women, and my favorite of his — Swimming Pool — are all worth finding. He got praise for his films Young & Beautiful, The House, and Frantz, of which I only saw one, and wasn’t all that impressed.

Ozon brought actors he’s worked with before — Marine Vacth and Jeremie Renier  Vacth is a former model (who looks like a prettier Hilary Swank), who doesn’t mind the director exploiting her. The film starts out with a close-up of her stretched out vagina during a gynecological exam. That’s edited into a blinking eye, which is somewhat clever, but it’s gratuitous.

Chloe (Vacth) is having the exam because she’s having stomach pains. When there’s nothing found, she goes to psychologist Paul Meyer (Renier). She quickly tells him about her sexual dreams and in the follow up session, he exclaims he can’t see her anymore, because he’s falling for her. Not soon after, she’s moved in to his place. They have a few small problems. He’s allergic to cats, so the neighbor takes her cat in. Oh, and he’s being rather secretive about his life. She finds an old passport that has a different name. Another time she’s driving and sees who she thinks is Paul, kissing another woman. It turns out that’s twin brother Louis, who she knows nothing about. As luck would have it, he’s a psychoanalyst. She starts seeing him, and instead of telling him about sex dreams, he bends her over the desk and they…well, it puts Fifty Shades to shame. Yes, it’s safe to say, these two brothers have different methods in dealing with patients. These scene are not that sexy, considering they almost borders on rape. At that point, I thought of the movie Dead Ringers (where Jeremy Irons plays twin gynecologists that sleep with their patients). When the movie starts with weird scenarios and twists…I thought about how much better this would’ve been if it were done by Brian De Palma, one of the David’s (Cronenberg or Lynch), or perhaps Polanski.

Chloe, who plays a former model, gets a part-time job as a security guard at a museum.

There are plot twists, with plot holes. And unfortunately, you just stop caring. There’s something seriously wrong when a gorgeous naked woman is on screen, and I’m glancing down at my watch.

There’s a subplot about a disabled woman named Sandra, that had been involved with the twins. Her mom is played by Jacqueline Bisset, who I haven’t seen on screen in years.

The tone of the film is uneven. Did Ozon want to make a comedy, a drama, a sexy thriller?

The French films continue to disappointment me time and time again.

I’m going to give it an extra ½ a star for playing lots of Elvis Presley. Not just because I like Elvis, but I’m assuming they did this because Elvis was actually a twin (his brother died at birth).

This gets 1 ½ stars out of 5.