François Ozon’s 5x2 takes five reels detailing the marital discontent of Marion (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) and Gilles (Stéphane Freiss) and projects them in reverse order, beginning with the couple’s finalization of their divorce agreement (and a desperate post-divorce “one last time” tête-à-tête) and ending on the day a postcard-perfect sunset first sparked their infatuation. The most obvious metaphorical implication for this structural fuss is not, as per Gaspar Noé, that time destroys everything, but rather that every relationship implicitly begins with the risk-reward contemplation of the eschatological nature of romance. Ozon calculates a saggy linear model by which he posits a universal pattern for romance: the initiation begins out of necessity from the ennui over previous relationships (Ozon’s beautiful people are never not in relationships, you see; but I’d expect nothing less from such creamy curves and tanned pecs), the secret betrayals of thought and deed (Marion, on her wedding night, ends up screwing a studly Riviera tourist when Gilles passes out under the nuptial canopy) are cosmically answered with more overt, hostile retaliations (Gilles goes MIA while Marion gives birth to their child), stabs at therapeutic profligacy in hope of jump-starting the lovers’ mutual sense of jealous provinciality, and ultimately the bitter-relieved separatees. Not exactly a nihilistic film (in practice, it’s mostly bemused: the cinematic equivalent of Freiss’s vacant, one-eyebrow-raised sneer), 5x2’s most transgressive segment is probably the second act (the “profligate” axis on the graph—the point at which the coordinates of XX and XY seem to validate a surprising number of mathematical theorems), in which the couple throw an intimate dinner party between themselves and a May-August (called “May-September” by Robert Keser at Bright Lights Film Journal, but let’s be fair) gay couple. For a petite longueur, Ozon seems to posit the gay couple’s presence as a diffidently naughty alternate dimension that Marion and Gilles could theoretically expand their horizons with, with “August” (hiding his humiliation behind a façade of open-mindedness) admitting that “May” is free to cash in the rewards of youth on whomever he pleases and Gilles regaling the table with a lengthy account of the experience he had at an orgy where he took dick up his ass while Marion watched on the sidelines. Only after Marion has teared up oh-so-glamorously during Gilles’s storytime, seeming to indicate a foresight into the evening’s descent into homo-narcissism, do we learn that “August” is actually Gilles’s brother (if I had a brother, I’m sure that I’d tell him all about my vaginal conquests). Oh, François, you big tease! Still, this tossed-off disclosure constitutes perhaps the only moment in 5x2 that Ozon uses his backsliding chronology to convey surprise and revelation.
- François Ozon
- Emmanuèle Bernheim, François Ozon
- Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Stéphane Freiss, Géraldine Pailhas, Françoise Fabian, Michael Lonsdale, Antoine Chappey, Marc Ruchmann, Jason Tavassoli, Jean-Pol Brissart
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