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August 30, 2010

5×2 (2004)
Director: Francois Ozon
Actors: Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Stephane Freiss, Geraldine Pailhas

5x2.jpg (274×184)

Synopsis: The relationship of Marion (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) and Gilles (Stephane Freiss) told in reverse.

Review5×2 is a film that in theory has a lot of potential: intriguing subject matter (the disintegration of a marriage) and ingenious concept (telling the story backwards through five simple episodes). Unfortunately the end-result is disappointing, with the film seriously undercooking its central treatise, and lacking in running time and narrative meat. One obvious flaw is in the selection of the five scenes: the wedding day, the birth of the first child, and the divorce proceedings are not the most original of sequences, and pander to rather stock plotting, particularly in the easy irony of the marriage vows mirroring the earlier revocations at the divorce hearing. A scene less ostensibly significant to the couple’s downfall (they argue outright in too many of them) might have provided a more insightful reason as to why relationships fizzle out.

The second problem with the film is that it never breaks free from the self-imposed formality of its structure. Though Ozon would argue these episodes are merely an impression of the relationship and the viewer must flesh out the rest of the story, it’s difficult to empathise with the characters when their actions remain either inscrutable or too closely tied to the contrivance of the overall narrative schema. As an unintentionally ‘ironic’ and banal view of relationships 5×2 garners most usefulness, but judging by Ozon’s pretensions to something more profound and tragic, his film is as flawed as its on-screen marriage. (March 2006)

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