Francois Ozon is a well known name. He is prolific. His films are mostly in French, except Swimming Pool which has a good amount of English. He has a nearly undefinable quality that makes him a very French director if you know what I mean. His work is akin to that of Francois Truffaut's. The 2005 film Le temps qui reste also known as "Time to Leave" is touching.
However, Cinq fois deux which in English will literally mean Five times two defies adjectives. In this film, he delves deep into the difficult theme of collapse of the marriage of a young couple with a small child. No judgements if you were looking for one. Two very normal, healthy, jovial, successful persons. And their marriage does not work. This is a phenomenon that is now haunting the western society for at least half a century. In India, this social phenomenon is at its beginning.
Brilliantly scripted, experiments with format. The story is told in reverse, beginning with the divorce. Then one sees the glimpses of the happy family that once was. A happy family with a son. Then the wedding and so on. Stéphane Freiss plays the role of the husband. To begin with, he does seem to be a scoundrel. That fades later. Valeria Bruni Tedeschi is beautiful, vulnerable, upright. As the film progresses, it becomes clear that she has equal hand in shaping the future. Freiss seems to be lesser and lesser of an evil that he seemed at first. That is when the audience understands (or may be, I should only talk about myself) that the issue at hand is not about who is good or who is bad. It is just that everyone is human. People act according to their nature, ego, perceived threats, innate goodness and so on. And consequences follow.
The film is rich in sensual physical content. Reminds me of how Ray used the day to day mundane activity of eating in his films. Many of his films are full of scenes of eating during which insightful conversations take place. Cinq fois deus has many bed scenes many of which reveal the characters to a large extent. Ozon is known to use physical intimacy to bring out mental equations. And he does it so very well. We learn a lot both about Gilles (Freiss) and Marion (Tedeschi) from these scenes. Extraordinary direction.
The film leaves you asking whether marriage is a doomed institution (at least in France, and in India, going by the recent trends in big cities). Or is there hope?