Published Jun 01, 2005Francois Ozon calls 5 x 2 his version of Scenes from a Marriage, and while his film is quite polished and well-written, his self-aggrandising comparison to Bergman is only based on some surface similarities. Whereas Scenes was an incisive torrent of emotion that drew you into its drama, 5 x 2 is a fairly antiseptic exercise and while it has moments of truth, it remains an aloof experience.
The narrative is told backwards from the divorce to the first moment the couple falls in love. To Ozon's credit, this isn't as gimmicky as Irreversible, but I wouldn't call the film formally inventive by any means. As it proceeds backwards it covers some familiar ground - the admission of an extramarital dalliance, the birth of a child, the wedding and the idyllic first meeting at a seaside resort. There are some surprises (the husband experimented with group sex, the wife had a tryst with a stranger on their wedding night) but the best material is in the first segment.
After the divorce is coldly finalised, the couple, Gilles (Stephane Freiss) and Marion (Valerie Bruni-Tedeschi), go to a hotel room where they awkwardly navigate their way through their ambivalent feelings about breaking up. When they get between the sheets an entire conflicted drama unfolds - although they've had sex hundreds of times before, this time it's the brutal dying gasps of an untenable relationship.
As a director, Ozon seems to view heterosexual relationships with a cold eye. He waxes sympathetic but in this realm he's more of an objective observer than a dramatist, and his bone-dry approach offers precious little insight into human nature. If there's a subtext to 5 x 2, you can find it in the archetypal universality of this doomed marriage. Ozon can't seem to imagine anything but the forgone conclusion of a break-up. (Seville)