Film Review: L’Amant Double

In his latest feature film L’Amant Double, prolific French director Francois Ozon offers a fantastically bonkers premise that’s likely to bewilder and enchant audiences in equal measures. Playing with classical thriller tropes, and with a heavy dose of Gallic eroticism added for good measure, the film owes more to Hitchcock and Cronenberg than to the directors more recent offerings.

Freely adapted from Joyce Carol Oatess novel ‘Lives Of The Twins’, LAmant Double stars Marine Vacth as Chloe, a former model who feels that her life has been stunted by years of mental anguish and mysterious stomach aches which no doctor has been able to cure. When she starts a course of therapy with handsome psychiatrist Paul (Jérémie Renier), the two almost instantly fall in love and Marine is invited to move in with her new lover in his plush apartment overlooking the city.

Refusing to go back to her modelling days, Chloe, rather strangely, takes on a new job as a security guard in an art gallery in town. Things however take a turn for the strange when Marine discovers that Paul has a secret twin brother Louis (also played by Renier) who identical looking and who also happens to be a psychiatrist. Marine soon finds herself attracted to the cruel and sadistic Louis with whom she enters into a destructive sadomasochistic relationship behind Pauls back.

From the outset, Ozon focuses the crux of his narrative on themes relating to duplication and duplicity in a twin-fetish charged story which isnt afraid of pushing the boundaries of what is deemed tasteful in a deliciously befuddling storyline. Playing deliberately on the ambiguity of Marines own sanity, reality and fiction are intentionally blurred and we are no longer sure where reality starts or where dreams finish. Ozon frequently pushes the twin fetish further in scenes which sees both twins engaging in sexual activity with the young woman and sometimes even with each other.

While LAmant Double might not be to everyones taste, what really makes it interesting is its directors commitment to the idea he built around Oatess novel by giving his own interpretation of the story. Both Vacth and Renier are put through the wringer in two demanding roles which rely heavily on their own interpretation of what is really happening. On the whole, the film presents a change of gear from Ozon whose last film Frantz couldnt be more different from this one, but fear not, as there is plenty here to enjoy and relate to, despite its very otherworldly subject matter.

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