Name: Sabine Kues

Nationality: Germany


"The Double Lover" by Francois Ozon (FR, BE)

​ KVIFF 2017 - Karlovy Vary International Film Festival - Horizons

François Ozon gives us something to dream about in his latest feature The Double Lover. He indulges in psychoanalytical overkill, with a spree through film history.

An inexplicable pain in her stomach causes the young and beautiful Chloé (Marine Vacth) to consult the psychotherapist Paul Meyer (Jérémie Renier). The patient and the doctor fall in love but Chloé  discovers only after they’ve moved in together, that Paul has a twin brother, practicing psychotherapy as well. In order to solve the mystery, she attends sessions with Louis – seemingly the evil twin of the two – and starts an affair of rough sexual lust. The film wouldn’t live up to its saturation in psychoanalysis though, if it wasn’t for Chloé eventually discovering truth about herself.

Ozon begins his tour de force already with the opening scene. A close-up of Chloé shows her getting her hair cut, transforming her into Mia Farrow in Roman Polanski's horror film Rosemary's Baby. She is basically is an alter ego of Rosemary, and Polanski’s film must be the ultimate reference to The Double Lover – a young couple moving into the new apartment building with the mysterious neighbour, fittingly named Rose, followed by Chloé's sudden pregnancy. On top of Ozon creating chilling scenes of suspense in this psychological thriller, he also manages to lighten it up with comical twists, nurtured by exaggerated scenes, like the witch-like evil grin on creepy neighbour’s face as she turns her back to Chloé in order to let her into the apartment. Feeling unsafe there, Chloé spends the night among stuffed cats and the horrifying figure of a mother.

Ozon draws equally on the evil twin theme of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or the brutal birth scene of Ridley Scott's Alien ultimately developing his own doppelgänger film of psychoanalytic films.

Ozon, the director of the erotic thriller Swimming Pool and 8 Women amongst  others, succeeds especially in implementing the psychoanalytical twist in a strong visual concept. Apart from mirrors duplicating the protagonist whenever possible, split screen and kaleidoscopic visual effects let Chloé duplicate her body itself on screen; or literally, when she grows another head.

The scenes are heavily impregnated with reference to things like Freud's interpretation of dreams. Chloé's job as a museum guard is to keep an eye on the Rorschach test on display in the museum she works in.

The camera closes in on its characters, piercing the body with detailed shots of Chloé's vagina at the gynecologist, or going deep throat, up to her vocal chords as she is having an orgasm.

Ozon's The Double Lover is most definitely a feast for the eye and a treat for film lovers who enjoy decrypting signs for psychoanalysis as well as film references. A true doppelgänger film.


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C. Photo Credit: The Double Lover ​(2017)