When Sarah is offered the use of her publisher's vacation home, she accepts the offer. The conservative, repressed Sarah clashes with the house's other inhabitant, Julie, the uninhibited daughter of the publisher. Julie's promiscuous sex life intrigues Sarah and starts to lead to the thawing of the emotional deep-freeze between the two. The death of one of Julie's nightly assignations complicates their lives.
The French filmmaker Francois Ozon seems to have a thing going with the British actress Charlotte Rampling. After Under the Sand he's created a new role for her in Swimming Pool.
Rampling plays Sarah Morton, a prickly, needy, repressed writer of crime novels who's experiencing writer's block. Her publisher John Bosload, Charles Dance, packs her off to his villa in Provence for some R & R with a vague promise of a visit. But it's not John that drops in for some sun and fun, it's his blond, bronzed and scantily clad daughter Julie, Ludivine Sagnier, who arrives. Sarah regards this interloper with distaste, for her eating habits, her insouciance and for her nightly sexual romps with men she's picked up. For being everything that Sarah's not.
This amusing and entertainingly cool thriller is exceedingly well-made by Ozon, with a terrific performance from Rampling and a cleverly sexy one from Sagnier. It's one of those films that leads you up one path and then double flips into somewhere else. And possibly Ozon might have been better off not giving us quite so much information at the end. But the setting in the South of France, the murky depths of the pool - so often a metaphor for repressed sexual desire are used to good effect.
Swimming Pool has delicious pleasures, but it's not an unqualified success like some of Ozon's earlier films.