As a rule of thumb, whenever a movie review contains the words, “Rated R (for strong sexual content, nudity, language, some violence and drug use),” I’m pretty sure I’m going to like the film. And indeed I did like "Swimming Pool," our latest art flick entertainment at Salem Cinema. On the face of it, it’s one of those “repressed old maid writer unleashes her unexpressed wild side” movies, which wouldn’t make it too special.
But the gorgeous Ludivine Sagnier, complete with alluring French accent and even more alluring frequent topless scenes, makes Swimming Pool special, as does the ending, about which Roger Ebert says: “After it is over, you will want to go back and think things through again, and I can help you by suggesting that there is one, and only one, interpretation that resolves all of the difficulties, but if I told you, you would have to kill me.”
Indeed, this is one of those movies where you leave the theatre saying to whoever you watched it with, “What happened at the end? I don’t get it.” And you try to listen to the conversations other people are having as they head for the exit, hoping that you will overhear some other patron sum up the whole meaning of the movie so you won’t have to think about it all night yourself. That didn’t happen, so I’m still pondering the ending, and how it affects the beginning and the middle. This is what an art film is supposed to do, leave you with more questions than answers, and Swimming Pool succeeds in that.
But if you don’t want to think too hard (and if you’re male, or a certain persuasion of female), you can fully enjoy the movie just by focusing on Sagnier’s scenes. She plays the luscious young woman who tantalizes the apparently previous luscious, and still attractive in a middle-aged sort of way, older woman (Charlotte Rampling, who plays Sarah, the writer). I liked how, when Sarah unpacks in a French chateau, the first thing she does is set up her laptop, pulling out a jumble of cords, plug-ins, printer, and what not, having to crawl under a table to find an electrical outlet. That looked real, unlike the computer scenes often shown in movies where all the crap that normally surrounds a laptop is mysteriously absent.