Stars: Marine Vacth, Jérémie Renier, Jacqueline Bissett
The latest from the ever-versatile French director Ozon, an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel Lives of the Twins is a handsomely rendered, occasionally unhinged, but ultimately unsatisfying mash-up of Hitchcockian gaslighting drama, lurid camp 90s picture a la Paul Verhoeven, and David Cronenberg-style body horror. Vacth from Ozon’s Jeune et Jolieis Chloé, a beautiful young woman, suffering from stomach pains. Advised that the symptoms may be psychosomatic she visits a therapist, the handsome and soft-spoken Paul (Renier). As a romance develops, Paul discontinues the sessions, and they move in together. Still, Paul remains evasive about aspects of his private life. Later Chloé, riding on a bus, spots a man who appears to be Paul, chatting to a woman on the street. An investigation reveals that Paul has a twin brother, Louis, who is also a therapist. She makes a secret appointment where she discovers that Louis practices very different methods. The opening image, an endoscopic view of a vagina, announces that normal service has been resumed for the director, following the uncharacteristically poised and tasteful period piece Frantz, with Ozon skilfully deploying a range of split screen shots and lurid dream sequences to illustrate the erotic and psychological intrigue. The plot is completely daft, but sadly not as much fun as it sounds, the director’s cocktail of chilly formalism and camp resulting in a strangely mannered and uninvolving pastiche. One wonders what Almodóvar could have done with such material.