Cast: Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier, Charles Dance, Jean-Marie Lamour
A British mystery author visits her publisher's home in the South of France, where her interaction with his unusual daughter sets off some touchy dynamics.
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Swimming Pool is a taut psychological thriller that leaves you guessing with its confusing yet captivating and ambiguous ending that is sure to have people talking. The nature of the film is obscure. You’re not exactly sure what’s going on but you are enthralled all the same, wondering with profound curiosity where exactly is this film going, and when t gets there, it leaves you speechless.
In serious need for a vacation, popular author Sara Morton is tired of writing the same types of novels; murder mysteries. So, her publisher offers his villa in France prompting the withered author to take him up on his offer. The home is beautiful overlooking at nice size pool with a lavishly green backyard. The scenery is the ideal place to provide the solace Sara desperately needs.
Sara’s first few days are perfect. She walks around town, takes in the culture, enjoys their fine dining and eventually becomes inspired again to write. But her moment of clarity is interrupted with the arrival of Julie, the daughter of the publisher. Immediately the two are at odds with Julie promiscuous and adventurous life style going against Sara’s conservative quiet nature.
Yet over time, Sara grows envious of Julie life, noticing her carefree attitude as a form of escape Sara needs to find her inspiration. The conflict heightens when the two begin vying for the attention and affection of the local waiter, Franck, who appears interested in both. But the film takes a dark and unexpected turn after a crime is committed, and both Sara and Julie put aside their differences to work together.
The tension is thin in the beginning, but you can feel it all the same, and as the story progresses you find yourself completely embroiled in the film. Charlotte Rampling in particular gives a quiet stand out performance as she plays the sardonic moody author lacking not only inspiration but social skills as well. We are first introduced to Charlotte riding a train where someone recognizes her as the famous author. But Charlotte is quick to dispel any notion that she is her, and avoids her fan altogether.
Charlotte’s desperation to escape the mundane yet tormenting life she has back home has left its mark on her face. You literally see the depression and resentment looming over her and coming out of her defeated appearance. There’s a lot going on in this film, and it’s not just coming from the story, the stellar actors provide something unique and interesting to their characters making for an even more complex and enthralling experience.
Swimming Pool may leave people wondering what exactly they just watched. Honestly, I don’t really have an answer and neither does the film, and for that reason alone, it triumphs. The ending is open to interpretation and that’s exactly what the director intended. You make your own assumption on what happened, the same way you would when watching a David Lynch film. Sometimes the director allowing you to complete the story with your own ending can be more of a satisfying ending than if the director simply concocted one himself.