BFI LFF: L’Amant Double (The Double Lover) (2017)

François Ozon is on quirky erotic form in L’Amant Double, a mystery of psychoanalysis and seduction.

Arbus Twins

by Alexa Dalby

L’Amant Double

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Opening with an in-your-face gynaecological shot sets the tone for L’Amant Double – both clinical and erotic.

Marine Vacth (Young & Beautiful) is Chloë, a troubled young woman with a newly gamine hairstyle, who starts seeing unthreatening psychotherapist Paul (Jérémie Rénier) for her psychomatic stomach pains, they fall in love and he can longer have her as a patient. One day she sees him in the wrong part of Paris for his work in hospital. She finds out that in fact it’s his twin brother Louis (also played by Rénier, also a psychiatrist, whose existence he will not acknowledge. Chloë consults Louis under an assumed name and in her sessions discovers he is the opposite of Paul – professionally unconventional and sexually aggressive. As her relationship with Paul develops, she and her voyeuristic cat move in with him, while she continues an affair with Louis.

Ozon has great fun playing with the concept of twins and dual identities. Mirror imagery acts like a prism and Jacqueline Bisset plays two mothers. The line between reality and fantasy in Chloë’s increasingly explicit and innovative sexual fantasies about the twin brothers becomes increasingly hard to identify. Myriam Boyer is her over-friendly, cake-bearing, cat-sitting neighbour.

It’s a visual joy to see Ozon’s beautifully composed shots, Chloë’s black uniform against the whiteness of the museum where she works, the contrasting decor of the two different psychiatrists’ offices, the light and shade of the bedroom scenes and the strangely unnervingly framed neighbour. The film takes you to unexpected, unsettling places, both internally and externally, and ends with a surprising, visceral resolution.

L’Amant Double premiered at the 70th Cannes Film Festival and screens at the 61st BFI London Film Festival on 6 and 8 October 2017.

BFI London Film Festival 2017

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