L'Amant Double (2 stars)

L'Amant Double

Cannes 2017: Disappointing, even ludicrous erotic thriller from François Ozon

François Ozon's L'Amant Double comes as something of a shock after his delicate handling of the period drama Frantz. By contrast, this is an overwrought, heavyhanded affair that borders on a parody of the lurid, psychosexual melodramas that were a Hollywood staple around the time of Basic Instinct.

Very loosely based on Joyce Carol Oates' Lives of the Twins, it is a film obsessed with mirror images, double trouble, reflective surfaces and terrible twins. Former model Chloé (Marine Vacth) has long been troubled with stomach pains that could be psychosomatic. She consults psychiatrist Paul (Jérémie Renier) and is soon charming and seducing him. They eventually become a couple. He remains elusive about his past and seems unwilling to discuss his family. It is Chloé who stumbles on the fact that he has a twin brother, Louis (also Renier). She decides to consult him and finds a bolder, more imperious figure who favours an approach that is much more hands-on.

Stylish in its execution, L'Amant Double seems determined to provoke outrage as it strays into Fifty Shades of Grey territory and fills the screen with copious amounts of sex, including Chloé's use of a strap-on dildo to widen the possibilities of her home life with Paul.

Increasingly hysterical, it tips into farce as Ozon also adds a sinister next-door neighbour, some creepy cats and scenes that wouldn't look out of place in a Mel Brooks spoof. The cast are game, including Jacqueline Bisset in a brief role as a protective mother. There are some pleasures to be had from L'Amant Double but they are not enough to overlook the dodgy sexual politics and preposterous plotting. In the end, it is hard to take seriously and feels like the dying gasp of a genre that belonged to the 1990s.

Screening as part of the Cannes Film Festival 2017. General release TBC.

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