Combustible Celluloid
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With: Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Stephane Freiss
Written by: François Ozon, Emmanuèle Bernheim
Directed by: François Ozon
MPAA Rating: R
Language: French with English subtitles
Running Time: 90
Date: 09/01/2004

5x2 (2005)

2 Stars (out of 4)

'2' Little, '2' Late

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Francois Ozon's best films ooze pure artifice, steeped in other types of films and reeking of Hitchcock, Cukor and Fasssbinder. He's a trickster, smirking as he viciously toys with us, and this technique works beautifully on dark, fun films like Sitcom, 8 Women or Swimming Pool. Unfortunately, Ozon does not handle sincerity well; his 2001 Under the Sand, which tried to explore a real relationship through the disappearance of one of its partners, came up empty. Ironically, mainstream critics preferred that attempt at seriousness to Ozon's natural, subversive state. Those same critics are likely to get a huge kick out of the repellent new 5x2, a borderline offensive look at a disintegrating marriage. Told backwards in five sections, each section taking place chronologically before the previous one, we follow Gilles (Stephane Freiss) and Marion (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) as they 1) divorce, 2) argue, 3) have a child, 4) get married and 5) meet. Both characters are unappealing, and Ozon deliberately tries to distance us even further by depicting a rape during the very first sequence, followed by various other unsavory acts. (Marion presumably has sex with another man on her wedding night, though it's unclear whether she is willing or unwilling.) In fact, every mention or reference to sex equates it with cruelty. It's unclear what Ozon is trying to say with this mean material, or why he utilizes the playful technique, but the trick does not work.

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