What to Rent

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In which film savant Iggy Cortez gives you something to watch this weekend when you ask the cute girl from CC to your room to “watch a movie.”

After the decidedly uneven Swimming Pool, with 5X2 François Ozon makes a triumphant return to form with a film that is playfully sardonic but also unapologetically moving. Intelligent, irreverent and beautiful to look at; in the best possible way, it fulfills the fantasy Frenchness has for the precocious (and pretentious) at Columbia.

5X2 shows five turning points of a failed marriage in reverse order – from the icily cordial divorce settlement, to an uncomfortable dinner party, to the birth of the couple’s child, to their wedding and ending with the first awkward attempts at flirtation. The reverse narrative (also employed by films like Memento and Irreversible) is not a particularly radical practice in art, but in Ozon’s hands it eludes the gimmick and provides a genuinely crucial framework for a complex portrayal of modern day romance. Compassionate but distant, the film doesn’t perform anything so shallow as to gradually gather evidence of the couple’s inevitable doom. Instead, Ozon shows the latency of grimness and decay behind our happiest moments, not fatalistically, but as to suggest that the fantasies we have of the past are never as immaculate as we envision them to be. Nor is the end of love neatly unentangled from its opposite.

Again Ozon proves he is one of cinema’s most gifted subversives, turning clichés on their heads – draining the sacred, pointing out kitsch’s potential for depth. He most subtly applies this sensibility where otherwise tired conventions of French cinema – drunk, sexually charged dancing or nostalgic songs from the sixties – acquire a whole new set of implications and nuances.

Succinct and to-the-point, Ozon is also a particularly gifted director of short films, and 5X2 should be read not simply as a story told backwards, but as five short films – five independent worlds – that amplify in meaning when set against each other. Similarly to another spectacular film from last year, Miranda July’s video-installation inspired Me and You and Everyone We Know, 5X2 succeeds not only as narrative but as an intimation of cinema’s unending formal potential, effectively intruding a “lesser” cinematic art form into the feature-length film.

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  1. jack kerouac

    i like this review but the movie (5x2) sucks. can't you recommend more accessible films? like final destination or american beauty, for example.

  2. gwyneth

    or movies that college students feel a personal connection to, like lost in translation, my personal favorite.

  3. Phil

    Why would anyone need a recommendation for Lost in Translation, American Beauty, or Final Destination? Irrespective of whether they merit one, who might be unaware of these movies? They don't exactly need more exposure and advocacy, Jack K. and Gwyneth.

  4. mrs. chris martin

    i think your review is T.Riffic. the one you wrote espousing a normative notion of film reconveying project runway, however, is not.

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