France's François Ozon's 5 x 2, which resembles Ingmar Bergman's "Scenes from a Marriage" told in reverse, could be played for laughs, or suspense -- who killed this marriage? -- or with the rueful irony of Stephen Sondheim's backward musical "Merrily We Roll Along."
Stream Five Times Two
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
In the end I respected 5x2 more than I loved it. As we move backward in time, the distance between audience and characters inevitably widens -- we know what's going to happen and they don't -- and I found the effect a little astringent.
Told in the usual sequence, the story of Gilles and Marion would be a banal bell curve of infatuation, bliss, boredom, regret and recrimination. As it is, 5x2 does not quite make the case that Gilles and Marion are entirely worth our interest, let alone our sympathy, but the reversal of narrative order gives their ordinary moments together a faint aura of mystery, as Mr. Ozon teases us with the conceit that it will all make sense in the end - or rather, the beginning.
Compellingly acted and rich in visual ideas, but a bit thin in its psychological approach.
Deceptively placid and subtly unpredictable drama.
5x2 is a little talky and the pace is slow, but, for this kind of motion picture, it's one of the best around.
A wickedly entertaining bit of domestic tragedy.
Excellent perfs and writer-director Francois Ozon's sure, unfussy way with the camera add up to a viewing experience whose richness depends in large part on how much the viewer reads into the human templates on display.
Feminist sanctimony, it turns out, looks much the same forward and backward.
Unlike "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind," which holds the memories of a doomed affair as precious, there's nothing bittersweet about Ozon's failed romance, but its problems are equally true.