Ozon’s genre practice DOUBLE LOVER joins a mini-cinematic tributary fixating on and delving into the unwonted conditions of twins, like many a notable antecedent, sayDavid Cronenberg’s DEAD RINGERS (1988), Ozon finds the film a scientific bedrock in“parasitic twin”, a medical term that hasn't reached a mass comprehension and mines profoundly into the psychological implications stemmed from it.
The plot is a reductive two-hander (or three-hander if one counts separately Jérémie Renier’s Gemini embodiment of both Paul and Louis), and the premise falls right into an arid narrative device that forcefully brings Chloé (Vacth), a young woman who has been pestered by unspecified abdominal pain since childhood, and her shrink Paul together as a romantic couple, afterward, she alights on that he has an identical twin brother Louis, also a psychotherapist (coincidence? hell no!), whose very existence Paul refuse to acknowledge. Chloé is intrigued to seek out the truth by engaging carnal knowledge with Louis, their rumpy-pumpy is more violent and hardcore than the one with Paul, and she evenfantasizes that she is having a threesome with both (not before the twins sharing a steamy kissing scene, very Ozonesque, that includes a later gender-switch sexual experiment to point up the mutability in today’s masculine sexuality and slake a typical female fantasy), and in a split second, herself is clearly divided into two identical persons, yes the clues are all blatantly strewn, and the movie is larded with tried-and-tested old tricks like imagery juxtapositions and mirroring compositions to elaborate Chloé’s innate psychosexual desire (Philippe Rombi’s unheimlich score is a germane sound motif, blaring up whenever the story goes uncanny).
Chloé’s quagmire is predictably complicated by Paul’s marriage proposal and Louis’ obsession when she realizes she is pregnant and the child might be either Paul or Louis, when she finally makes up with her mind (a pistol is a handy weapon), Ozon cunningly turns the switch with a body-horror flourish, and takes giant leap in the realm of imagination to make the tall-tale plausibly cohere, a strategy might occasion mild exasperation for its tricksy repudiation, since a viewer has to forego a great chunk of its story to our protagonist’s wayward figment, let’s blame it on her job, a museum guardian, who has to sit for hours in a monotonous location, no wonder her mind wanders off like that.
A sashayingMarine Vacth seems more at ease when she is in motion than being projected in close-ups, looking coyly stuck-up, which betrays a dispassionate complexion that doesn’t of service to Chloé's characterization, save for her feline facet (cats are salient players too); butJérémie Renier conscientiously grasps the opportunity of the emblematic good/bad dichotomy with gumption and vigor, his dual shifting often outsmarts the longueur that Ozon cannot disperse us with. BothJacqueline Bisset andMyriam Boyer impress with fine turns here, but no substantial leverage is lent to their roles. In the aftermath, a dead fetus is physically removed, but its lifelong imprint perseveres, the same cannot bear on Ozon’s craft in this arch, erotic go-around.
referential films: Ozon’s THE NEW GIRLFRIEND (2014, 6.9/10); David Cronenberg’s DEAD RINGERS (1988, 7.4/10); Brian De Palma’s SISTERS (1973, 6.8/10).