Sexual Jealousy and Possession
Oliver (Simon Haycock) and James (Hugo Bolton) went to the south France for a romantic time together. At the last minute they decided to invite their friend, Caroline (Elly Condron), to join them. Caroline had just broken up with her boyfriend and she needed a change from dismal London to sunny France. The three of them settled in a village in Provence, away from the noisy and busy world. Everything seemed fine—they had a pool and plenty of sunshine but there was something lurking beneath the surface. Oliver becomes more and more interested in and intrigued by Caroline and it did not take long before the air became tense with sexual jealousy and possessiveness. Oliver was not happy about Caroline coming from the very beginning and as days pass he and Caroline clash and soon understand that they not only dislike one another but that something is being covered up.
The film is directed by Swiss writer/director Philippe Audi-Dor and this is first feature film. There are only three actors and all of the action takes place in and near a house in Gordes, Provence. This is said to be an understated movie and that, in this case, is positive. The director did not feel the need to have his characters use monologues to move the plot along and often the silences in the film say a lot about the characters.
The arrival of Caroline is the central focus of the film. Earlier on she asked if either Oliver or James had ever had sex with a woman and Oliver says he had but not since he came out as gay. We also see early in the film that Caroline will be more than happy to push any buttons necessary to get a reaction. We see that even though Caroline and Oliver share an initial dislike for one another, they are also strangely drawn to each other.
We rarely see a film that is the opposite of being a closeted gay male although I am sure that there are those who remain in the “heterosexual closet” for whatever reason. The very idea of a gay man who questions his sexuality—whether he is really gay or even bisexual—is an interesting concept. Here is where the director, Audi-Dor, excels—at doing something different and unexpected. We watch the tension between Caroline and Oliver and it does so at the perfect pace.
It is difficult to say any more about the plot without giving something away. There are twists and turns and surprises coming and it is to the director’s credit that his cast is so amazingly fine. Simon Haycock’s Oliver is emotive and we are aware of his sense of conflict throughout. Hugo Bolton is excellent as James and Elly Condron seems to be having a great time being satanically manipulative. They three work fine together and they really give it their all in the scenes where the tension is ready to boil.
It’s not easy to make a film with only three actors compelling yet Audi-Dor’s direction makes it an intriguing character study. This is a beautiful film set in sunny beautiful Provence. It is interesting that the film is both calm and disturbing at the same time and the tension is very thick—while this may sound like an oxymoron to you, let’s talk after you see the film.
I understand that the film is semi-autobiographical and because the story is based on fact, we can understand why there was so much attention to detail. The director has stated that, “I want to create films that make people feel as though they are not alone, because something about that story, those visuals, that sound, or whatever else, echoes deep in them.”