Double Lover (L'amant double) (NR)

Drama 110 min. February 14, 2018
By Michael Atkinson
Director Francois Ozon's latest plays as though Adrian Lyne and Jean-Jacques Beineix were back in the saddle, fetishizing sweaty flesh and black lacquer. Adapted from one of Joyce Carol Oates' '80s mystery-pulp "Rosamond Smith" books, the movie begins with a speculum-view vaginal exam. The down-under belongs to Chloe (the boyish Marine Vacth, the spitting image to a 1981 Rick Springfield), a skittish model who quits the biz and decides to see a shrink. The muscular, sandy-haired stud doctor, Paul (Jeremie Renier), has an office at the top of a mile-high circular stairwell (looks great, but what?) and a recessive therapeutic M.O. Before you know it, sessions later, he attempts to end the treatment, due to a sudden case of sensual obsession. Ozon's De Palma-esque mise en scene and general coolness suggest ulterior motives on the doctor's part, and even a little gaslighting.

It's odder than that, it turns out: Chloe, undistracted by friends or family of any kind, snoops around and finds out that Paul has a secret twin brother -- also a psychoanalyst. She sets up an appointment with him, but this Renier has a radically different method: provocations, insults, Viagral domination, coerced sex. Of course she's turned on by it all and starts fucking both bros, because this subgenre, as Oates well knows, depends upon emotional improbabilities. It also depends on unwavering just-take-me mascu-philia -- too many sequences hinge on twins cornering Chloe and making her submit. Tiptoeing toward the hot tub of camp without quite diving in, Double Lover starts to fracture Chloe's point of view, resulting in at least one fabulous Cronenbergian dream scene. It's a buffet of psychosexual delicacies, borrowed and otherwise, all staged with hot-blooded, straight-faced vigor.
François Ozon Marine Vacth, Jérémie Renier, Jacqueline Bisse Cohen Media

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