Movie Review - Double Lover (L'Amant Double)

This film premiered at the 70th Cannes Film Festival where it was up for the Palme d'Or. Other than that, this film has gotten no other major notices, not unlike writer-director François Ozon's previous works. His last film, Frantz, was up for 11 César Awards. This film didn't hear a peep from the César Awards. Not every film of his gets France's top honor or awards recognition anywhere else, and Frantz was such a deviation from the norm that maybe it had to be recognized. Given Ozon's track-record, Frantz was a deviation because there was no sex in it. It was about passion and love, but not sex. It's bizarre because Ozon likes putting sex in his movies. This film though veers Ozon back to his often-visited territory of dark eroticism, often buttressing stories about frustrated and dysfunctional women. In fact, this movie most resembles Swimming Pool (2003). There's a lot of twists and turns, a lot of crazy sex, all leading to an ending that suggests none of it was real. It's an ending tantamount to that of The Sixth Sense (1999) or the recent Tully (2018). Whereas the ending to The Sixth Sense worked, the ending to Tully didn't. The ending here feels somewhere in between those two.

Marine Vacth stars as Chloé Fortin, a 25-year-old former model who chops off her long hair and works as a watch-woman at a museum. She's lonely and is having stomach pains. Her doctors tell her that it might be psychological. Considering where the movie goes, we somehow have to accept that all her doctors are incompetent. Ozon based the character on a character by Joyce Carol Oates in Lives of the Twins (1987) and I'm not sure if Oates ended it the same way as Ozon, but it makes Chloé less interesting because the conclusion is that she's just crazy or extremely sick.

Having that as a character trait isn't inherently bad, but it would have been more interesting if Chloé were doing everything she does of her own accord. The movie is predicated on Chloé getting therapy. Yet, this movie has no intention of taking therapy or mental illness with any seriousness. It's a wonder if any of the thoughts or desires are real or if any of it mattered. Vacth does convey a woman spiraling, pulled by furious and conflicting desires.

Jérémie Renier (Saint Laurent and L'Enfant) co-stars as Paul Meyer, a psychiatrist who takes Chloé as a patient and then develops feelings for her. He also plays Louis Delord, the twin brother of Paul, who is too a psychiatrist who takes Chloé as a patient and also develops feelings for her. Renier is excellent in the dual role and like with so many actors is effective at being two distinct personalities, although it helps that the personalities are so opposite in extreme ways. One is sweet and compassionate. The other is mean and aggressive. It's like William Shatner in Star Trek in the 1966 episode titled "The Enemy Within" where Capt. Kirk is split into twins with one good and the other evil. There isn't as much nuance here as there was in that TV show 50 years ago.

Speaking of Star Trek, Ozon's penultimate scene is similar to the penultimate scene in the 1969 episode titled "Whom Gods Destroy" where Mr. Spock has to choose between twins, just as Chloé has to choose between Paul and Louis, but she has to choose between them in the same way as Mr. Spock. The dialogue is almost exactly the same. Immediately after, there is a moment similar to the ending of Alien (1979). In that Star Trek episode, Kirk gets to make-out with a green woman. Here, there's more than just closed-mouth kissing. Here, there's hardcore intercourse, bloody cunnilingus, a threesome or possible foursome and a dildo with a strap-on. If that's appealing to anyone, than this movie is the one for you.

Not Rated but contains intense sexuality, language and full-frontal nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 47 mins.

Available on DVD and VOD.


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