Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Directed by Francois Ozon and written by Ozon and Emmanuele Bernheim, 5x2 is the story about the life of a couple from how they met and how they dissolved told backwards in five different parts of their lives. The film is an exploration into the world of love and marriage on how it fell apart and how did they get together in the first place. Starring Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Stephane Freiss. 5x2 is an entrancing yet captivating drama from Francois Ozon.
There is always a scheme whenever love comes into play. Boy meets girl. Boy marries girl. Then comes a baby and later a family. Then they either grow old together and die or they get divorced and find someone else. In this film, it’s about the end of a relationship told backwards in five different settings as it involves Marion (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) and Gilles (Stephane Freiss) as it begins with the two finalizing their divorce and spend one final day together as it’s clear that it’s over. The subsequent episodes of Marion and Gilles’ life reveal not just some of the aspects of their dissolution but also the question of where they right for each other to begin with?
What Francois Ozon and co-writer Emmanuele Bernheim do is take five moments of the life of Marion and Gilles told backwards to discover not just where the root of their dissolution but also how they met in the final episode of the film. The three episodes in between the film’s beginning and ending not only reveal moments where their marriage starts to fall apart but also the reasons into why they never should’ve been together in the first place. The screenplay plays into many themes of marriage including infidelity and family where is it all worth it to get married. Yet, Marion and Gilles would face many challenges in their marriage including on their wedding day where Marion’s encounter with an American tourist (Jason Tavassoli) would continue to add these questions that the film raises.
Ozon’s direction is very entrancing for the way he explores these five different moments as a lot of it is very bleak and unsettling from his approach to framing the actors in a scene to the way he presents these intimate moments with such subtlety and restraint. Even in the drama as it is very low-key and minimalist while it does have some moments of brutality that makes things very uncomfortable. Each segment Ozon brings is told in 20 minutes where he allows enough coverage to unveil the events that caused this relationship to be doomed as some of its told unconventionally while its final segment is definitely the most conventional which is quite different from the rest of the film as it unveils some happy moments. Overall, Ozon crafts a very provocative and intriguing look into the world of marriage and its drawbacks.
Cinematographer Yorick Le Saux does brilliant work with the film‘s cinematography that includes some very stark colored schemes for most of the film‘s first half to more gorgeous lighting schemes in the wedding scene. Editor Monica Coleman does great work with the editing to help create this unique structure for the film as well as using rhythmic cuts to play out some of the film‘s drama. Production designer Katia Wyszkop does excellent work with some of the set pieces from the look of the wedding reception to the home of Gilles and Marion that reveal some of the bleakness of the film. Costume designer Pascaline Chavanne does fantastic work with the costumes to showcase the sense of de-evolution into the characters as their clothes start from being cold to more light-hearted as the film progresses.
The sound work of Jean-Pierre Duret, Benoit Hillebrant, and Jean-Pierre Laforce is terrific to play out some of the dark intimacy of the film as well as some of the more raucous moments in the wedding reception and the first meeting between Gilles and Marion. The film’s music by Philippe Rombi is wonderful for the melancholia that is created in its low-key piano score to convey that sense of doom while its soundtrack consists of music ranging from Italian pop ballads, techno, and contemporary music including the Platters’ Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.
The casting by Antoinette Boulat is terrific for the ensemble that is created as it features some small roles from Jean-Pol Brissart as the divorce judge, Yannis Belkacem as Gilles and Marion’s son Nicholas, Jason Tassavoli as the American tourist Marion meets on her wedding night, Geraldine Pailhas as Gilles’ girlfriend in the final segment of the film, Antoine Chappey as Gilles’ gay brother Christophe, Marc Ruchmann as Christopher’s boyfriend Mathieu, Francoise Fabian as Marion’s domineering mother, and Michael Lonsdale in superb performance as Marion’s more quiet and insightful father.
Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Stephane Freiss are remarkable in their respective roles as Marion and Gilles. Freiss brings a chilling performance to a man who seems lost in his marriage as he becomes far more despicable as he later shown to be a much kinder and more enjoyable man before he meets Marion. Bruni-Tedeschi showcases a more complex performance as a woman filled with bitterness over how things went wrong while she seems to be someone who tries to hold on to everything but does things that will play into their dissolution.
***DVD Content comes from the Original Review at Epinions.com that was Written and Posted on 6/2/06***
The 2005 Region 1 DVD from Thinkfilm and Lions Gate shows the film in a wonderful widescreen format with an excellent 5.1 Dolby Digital sound in French with English subtitles. While the DVD is more superior to what Focus Feature had done for his previous feature, Swimming Pool, they both leave fans wanting for more. The special features of 5x2 includes preview trailers for other films like Kontrol, an auditions feature, a making-of special, lighting tests, and deleted scenes. The auditions feature done in late 2002 features Stephane Freiss and a dark-haired Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi acting out a scene from a movie not by Ozon but from another film. The audition revealed the strong chemistry Freiss and Bruni-Tedeschi had while the two looked relaxed and having fun at the same time. The lighting test is a one-minute clip of Ozon photographing his actors to get the right light as the two were looking very comfortable.
The 16-minute making-of featurette is really the making of the wedding scene which reveals more of Ozon's working style. While Ozon, like most directors, uses monitors, he also goes behind the camera looking for the right shots as he directing his stand-ins to dance the waltz with music in the background. This special shows how talented Ozon is as director as he can direct two to many more while trying to get the timing right and the actors to feel comfortable as the scene shows how much fun they were having. It's a true delight for fans of the director.
The 18-minute deleted scenes section reveals five clips that got cut from the film where it was obviously for pacing issues or plot reasons. The first is a prologue sequence of Marion waking up in her apartment with Gilles sleeping as he wakes up which leads to the two to make love and then cuts to the first scene of the film. The second scene involves an extended party sequence with Christophe where Gilles reveals his depression and his unemployed status. The third deleted scene is an extended sequence that involves Marion's encounter with the American which opens up more interpretation to the audience. The fourth deleted scene is the first meeting of Marion and Gilles in an office which shows more of Marion's youthful energy as opposed to the relaxed behavior of Gilles. The final scene is merely an outtake of Marion doing synchronized swimming which is really one of the funniest outtakes of the film.
While the Region 1 DVD is great, the Region 2 special French 2-disc DVD edition that contains more features. One is a Venice Film Festival feature, where Bruni-Tedeschi won a Best Actress prize, and audio commentary from Francois Ozon himself, in French obviously. On that DVD includes a different version of the film called 2x5 which Ozon shows the film in its exact, chronological order with some re-editing and new perspective that's only available in France. While American fans might want the Region 1 DVD, they'll have to pay a lot more the Region 2 French version.
***End of DVD Content***
5x2 is a marvelous film from Francois Ozon that features brilliant performances from Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Stephane Freiss. The film isn’t just one of Ozon’s great triumphs but also one of the most compelling films about the world of marriage told in an unconventional fashion. It’s also an intriguing film for the fact that it uses its backwards-storytelling gimmick to be effective to raise questions about how things went wrong. In the end, 5x2 is a fantastic film from Francois Ozon.
Francois Ozon Films: See the Sea - Sitcom - Criminal Lovers - Water Drops on Burning Rocks - Under the Sand - 8 Women - Swimming Pool - Time to Leave - Angel (2007 film) - Ricky - The Refuge - Potiche - In the House - Jeune & Jolie - (The New Girlfriend) - The Auteurs #33: Francois Ozon
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