restricted access Foreign Affairs: Gouttes d'eau sur pierres brûlantes, 5x2, and Ricky
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The Fabric of Desire | 115 numerous night scenes (in the forest, at the gay club, on the street), all point to a trajectory resembling life itself, a trajectory from lightness to darkness captured beautifully in the final image of a sunset. Of course, for those acquainted with Ozon’s prior exercises, the ultimate shot of Le temps qui reste is familiar territory for additional reasons. In its ability to call forth previous visions of lone characters on the beach (Luc in Une robe d’été, Sasha in Regarde la mer, Marie in Sous le sable), Romain’s final portrait reminds us that in Ozon’s coastal world, water, sand, and sky coalesce to generate joy and excitement, but also peril, mourning, and death. Foreign Affairs: Gouttes d’eau sur pierres brûlantes, 5x2, and Ricky The last three feature films considered in this study, Gouttes d’eau sur pierres brûlantes (henceforth, Gouttes d’eau), 5x2, and Ricky, span nine years of Ozon’s career. Released in 2000, 2004, and 2009, respectively, Ozon’s third, seventh, and tenth full-length projects all focus on a couple (or a combination of couples) and on the difficulties that connubial life entails. Veering away from the self-absorbed, solitary universe epitomized in the characters of Marie, Sarah, and Romain, these tightrope exercises in couplehood are either adaptations of literary works (a Fassbinder play for Gouttes d’eau, a Rose Tremain novella for Ricky) or, in the case of 5x2, a picture strongly inspired by two other films (from directors Ingmar Bergman and Jane Campion) and reminiscent of Betrayal, a play by Harold Pinter. These reinterpretations of already existing works are more than intertextual references; the acknowledged inspirations infuse the three narratives not anecdotally but on a deeper level. I have already pointed out Ozon’s taste for non-French-native actresses, from Sasha Hails and Lucia Sanchez to Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Charlotte Rampling, and, more seldom, for nonnative actors (Miki Manojlovic). It is significant that all of Ozon’s inspirations in the films under discussion draw from non-French sources and also employ at least one foreign-born performer. In addition, the first two films, Gouttes d’eau and 5x2, take place partially or completely outside of France (Germany and Sardinia, respectively), while Ricky unfolds in a lower-class suburb outside of the French capital. This last, previously unseen, un-Ozonian location i-x_1-198_Schil.indd 115 11/16/10 2:07:08 PM 116 | François Ozon (if one excludes the eight-minute X2000, commissioned for television) signals a marked departure from the familiar, a departure all the more conspicuous with Ricky being Ozon’s first film to plunge so deeply into the realm of the fantastic. The Teddy Award recipient Gouttes d’eau is, like Sitcom, an interior, single location huis clos. The film was shot between the summer and winter episodes of Sous le sable and released the same year as Marie’s tale. For Gouttes d’eau, Ozon disinterred and adapted an unstaged play that Rainer Werner Fassbinder wrote in 1965 when he was nineteen years old. At the time, the Bavarian-born (soon-to-be) playwright had left his divorced mother to rekindle his relationship with his father. Fassbinder ’s papa, a fallen doctor who had lost his license after performing illegal abortions, strongly disapproved of his son’s homosexual conquests. While Fassbinder was desperately looking for paternal love, he received only disdain (Landrot). Fassbinder’s play was written in this emotionally taut context and certainly incorporates autobiographical tidings. Given Ozon’s record for portraying ineffective father figures, it is unsurprising that Léopold’s character in Fassbinder’s play appealed to him. The same-sex, intergenerational, master-and-slave relationship spotlighted in his previous film Les amants criminels returns in full force in Gouttes d’eau. Ozon’s adaptation retains the theatricality of the play’s original four-act structure as four distinct segments are announced in the film via a (Godardian-style) intertitle. On a formal level, Ozon’s work borrows from both Fassbinder (the film director) and émigré, German-born Hollywood filmmaker Douglas Sirk while still remaining distinctly Ozonian. The geographical setting is, as in the 1965 play, an unidentified German city, the time period slightly later than Fassbinder’s, in the 1970s. Gouttes d’eau recounts (in French, not German) the piquant, dysfunctional relationship between a fifty-year-old salesman named Léopold Bluhm (Bernard Giraudeau) and Franz Meister, a twenty-year-old...


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