5x2 Francois Ozon

Francois Ozon cops Pinter's Betrayal shtick for this time-travelling relationship movie, and more often than not it works for him and us alike. Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Stephane Freiss star as a doomed couple who go from love to divorce, but we experience their relationship in reverse chronology: first the divorce (and the brutal "once for old time's sake" final screw) then the argument that destroyed it all through to the birth of their child, the marriage and the fateful meeting on holiday in Italy. As insight into how the relationship went wrong it's pretty obvious: Freiss is a four-star jerk, self-obsessed and oblivious to Tedeschi's needs, and the fact that they saw fit to marry at all is a freakin' miracle. But as a revelation of what is lost when the whole thing falls apart the film does considerably better. Having cued us to the male lead's scuzziness, we can only sigh in recognition at his bizarre behaviour at his daughter's premature birth and understand the desperate thing Tedeschi does when her husband passes out on her in their marriage bed. And the female lead is, as usual, fearlessly vulnerable, making her husband's doltish behaviour especially intolerable. I'm not sure if any of this adds up to anything substantial, but it's gripping, moving stuff, the best movie Ozon's done since Water Drops on Burning Rocks and giving him a pass for all of the mediocre stuff he's done in between. Extras include five deleted scenes (including a tantalising prologue), a formless verite "making of" that centres on the wedding scene, a screen test for Tedeschi and Freiss, a brief camera test involving same and a director's commentary that's sadly left un-subtitled. (Seville)