(Cinq fois deux)
While the output of French filmmaker François Ozon arguably
has been uneven, one thing remains certain: female actors have
flourished under his auspices. In his latest, 5x2, Valeria
Bruni-Tedeschi delivers a startling and subtle performance.
The template for 5x2 is a combination of Ingmar Bergman’s
masterful SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE crossed with the Harold
Pinter play “Betrayal.” Bergman’s television miniseries examined a
relationship between a husband and wife in intimate, minute detail
(there was an edited version released theatrically in the United
States in the 1970s), while Pinter’s play focused on adultery.
Ozon’s movie combines both in a manner that is both surprising
The director's stated intention was to tell the tale of a
relationship from its bitter breakup to its throes of first love. In
five scenes, Ozon details events in the relationship of Marion
(Bruni-Tedeschi) and Gilles (Stéphane Freiss).
The film opens with the couple before a judge facing the
dissolution of their marriage. Afterward all the papers are signed
and the divorce is granted, they retire to a hotel room for one
last time, but things take a dark turn, particularly after Marion
has second thoughts. The Gilles the audience sees is not
a particularly nice guy and the sentiment and support shifts
to Marion. But for how long?
Ozon then flashes back a couple of years to a dinner party
for Gilles’ gay brother Christophe (Antoine Chappey) and his
current lover Mathieu (Marc Ruchmann). Marion makes a special
effort to look attractive, inspiring jealousy in her husband. After
imbibing too much wine, and prompted by Mathieu’s questions,
Gilles offers a startling revelation which Marion shyly confirms.
(It’s left to the audience to decide whether they are telling the
truth or not.)
Each subsequent episode plays out at a key point in the
relationship. There are the events surrounding the birth of
the couple’s son, a moment with Marion facing a health crisis
and Gilles’ inability or unwillingness to help. Her bickering but
loving parents (well played by Françoise Fabien and Michael
Lonsdale) are there to support their daughter, and perhaps
they are meant to be seen as the couple Marion and Gilles
The audience also sees the couple’s wedding night, when
Gilles has had too much to drink and passes out in the bridal
suite, leaving a frustrated Marion to take a walk which in turn
leads to an encounter with a stranger.
The final sequence details the couple’s first meeting while
on vacation. Gilles is on holiday with his lover Valerie (Géraldine
Pailhas), while Marion has seemingly chosen the place at random …
or has she? There’s more than an implication that she deliberately
picked that resort because it was where Gilles would be and she
certainly turns her feminine charms on while in his presence.
Obviously the seduction works, since they eventually marry.
Bruni-Tedeschi shines in the complicated and difficult role
of Marion. This is among her best work, relaxed, confident, and
sexy. Freiss has the more difficult role, in part because Gilles
is often unsympathetic. The character’s motivations are not
always apparent either and that’s a drawback to an otherwise
MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic sexuality, language
and some drug content
Running time: 90 mins.
Viewed at Magno Review Two
|© 2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.