“Double Lover “ (“L’amant double”)
Twice the Love
François Ozon’s new thriller is the story of Chloé (Marine Vacth), a 25-year-old former model, has had several lovers in her life but none of these were serious causing her to think s that she may be incapable of true love. She’s been suffering from mysterious stomach pains, the cause of which, a doctor surmises, must be psychological. So she’s sent to see a therapist. It just takes 12 minutes for Chloé to fall in love with her therapist, Paul (Jérémie Renier). Using various camera effects (double exposure, split-screen, various shifts in focus, and so on), Ozon makes the two appear impossibly close. They move in together, and it isn’t long before Chloé feels like something is wrong. She finds his passport amid the miscellany of items packed away in boxes and discovers that he used to go by a different name. Paranoia sets in as she begins to see Paul in strange places, talking to strange women, appearing miles away from where he claims to be.
The plot grows increasingly delirious and more and more ridiculous. Chloé is sent to another therapist, who looks exactly like Paul and claims to be his brother, though Paul maintains he has no brother. Nothing is as it seems, yet everything is so obvious. The whole film is filtered through Chloé’s perspective, and it exudes an intimate, unhinged feeling. Ozon directs with his usual flair, finding ways to suggest, if often conspicuously, the theme of duality, the great motif of psychological thrillers. Ozon is a fascinating director in that it is difficult to find the thematic and aesthetic threads that hold the film together. Ozon reveres sleazy escapism, and that’s what makes “Double Lover” worthwhile.
Over all, this is a tacky, tawdry film that succeeds in provoking equal measures of perverse titillation and uncomfortable chuckles. The film opens with a close-up of a vaginal examination that dissolves into Chloe’s tears. She is urged by her gynecologist (Dominique Reymond) to see a psychoanalyst regarding her gastrointestinal issues. but Chloe finds her growing attraction to him getting in the way of their therapy. Chloe learns that Paul changed his last name as a young adult and as she digs into his past, she discovers Paul has a twin, who is also a psychoanalyst but one with highly unorthodox methods. Pretending a need to consult him, she is soon involved in an affair that begins to go out of control.
We see Chloe as a morose former model who left behind her modeling days to become a security guard in a museum.“Double Lover” has a memorable dream sequence in which Chloe fantasizes about her twin brother lovers in a steamy three-way and director Ozon pushes boundaries. We have a cinematic web of suspense, shock, eroticism, and power dynamics in this film. Ozon’s camera stares at the bodies of his lovers as they go through the motions of simulated sex or lounge around stark naked. He throws in plot twists that ultimately amount to absolutely nothing. Here are questions that arise: Is Louis really Peter? Is Peter really the evil twin? Whose baby is Chloé carrying? Is Chloé losing her mind? Twins and doppelgangers are the film’s primary subjects, and Ozon uses the doubles motif. He splits the screen, has his actors reflected in mirrors and moves his camera for Peter in the exact opposite way he moves it for Louis.
The explicitness of imagery is a hallmark of Ozon and it makes us take notice. Is this a gay movie? That is a question you will have to answer for yourself but I can tell you that Ozon is an openly gay male.