Divine decadence in the south of France, this silkily sexy psychological thriller stars Romy Schneider, Alain Delon and Jane Birkin, France’s hottest young stars of the 1960s, and shimmers with cool jazz and mid-summer menace.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2018
This superb, modern French classic mingles sensuality and slow-burn suspense in a psychological thriller featuring two of France’s most ravishing stars, Alain Delon and Romy Schneider, whose past off-screen romance infused their performances with a palpable erotic charge. They are Jean-Paul and Marianne, lapping up the heat of southern France beside the pool of a luxurious villa, lent to them by a friend. Alone, the lovers can indulge in their passion for each other, although from the outset there is an edgy undertow to their amorous play.
Their idyll is interrupted by the impromptu arrival of their friend Harry (wonderful Maurice Ronet), a garrulous, boozing record producer with his 18-year-old daughter, Pénélope, in tow. Pénélope (Jane Birkin, fresh from her scandalous ‘Je t’aime’ collaboration with Serge Gainsbourg) is news to the young couple – Harry has been as lackadaisical a father as he has been an erratic friend, and has only recently decided to play a part in his daughter’s existence.
This visit triggers the eruption of latent rivalries and insecurities, leading events to take a sinister turn. Every element is masterfully combined: director Jacques Deray’s use of colour, and his extraordinary staging and camerawork, allowing gazes to reveal depths; Michel Legrand’s cool-jazz score; the sumptuous setting; and the 1960s costumes, a retro-design dream ranging from a craze-inducing mini gingham sundress to a psychedelic-swirls chiffon evening gown, not to forget Delon’s hip-hugging swimwear. Billed as The Sinners, The Swimming Pool opened the Second Auckland International Film Festival in 1970. It was remade in 2015 by Luca Guadagnino as A Bigger Splash. — SR