Cinq fois deux
starring Valérie Bruni-Tedeschi, Stéphane Freiss, Géraldine Pailhas, Françoise Fabian
screenplay by François Ozon & Emmanuèle Bernheim
directed by François Ozon
by Bill Chambers Racking up an unorthodox number of short films before tackling his first feature, 1998's lead balloon Sitcom, the prolific François Ozon returns to his roots in a way with 5x2 - Five Times Two (5x2 - Cinq fois deux), a collection of five vignettes that charts an ill-fated marriage--backwards. As the picture opens, Marion (archetypal Ozon blonde Valérie Bruni-Tedeschi) and Gilles (Stéphane Freiss) are being read the terms of their divorce agreement; as the picture closes, the two are prospective lovers sizing each other up on an empty but sun-kissed beach, she portentously warning he of the choppy waters in which they're about to go swimming--a moment I preferred to think of as a tongue-in-cheek reference to Ozon's Under the Sand, so starved is 5x2 for levity. Irréversible Lite, the film is less emotionally draining than stultifying, in part because the anthology format does all the heavy-lifting, skipping anything interstitial that might let us form an impression of these characters organically or, moreover, fluidly: sympathies sway back-and-forth between the wife and the husband (though not to the extent that we ever forgive Gilles's abuse of Marion in the first segment), but never within the same episode, making Ozon just another god from the machine. Bruni-Tadeschi and Freiss, both of whom are in fine form, do seem to miraculously de-age throughout, however, lending the picture some credibility and surface interest. Programme: Special Presentations.