June 11, 2018  (Web Review)

Double Lover

Cohen, 107 min., in French w/English subtitles, not rated, DVD: $25.99, Blu-ray: $30.99, June 19

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

François Ozon’s twisted tale of dark, duplicitous romance—a kind of thriller loosely based on the 1987 novel Lives of the Twins by Joyce Carol Oates (published under the pseudonym Rosamond Smith)—is a homage to David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers, using many virtuoso cinematic tricks (split screens and mirrors in particular) to emphasize the doubling theme. Twins born and unborn figure prominently in the plot, which focuses on troubled Chloé (Marine Vacth), who suffers from persistent stomach pain and seeks psychological counseling from handsome therapist Paul Meyer (Jérémie Renier). Soon the pair are in love and living together. But Chloé has a shock when she discovers that Paul has an estranged twin brother named Louis—also an analyst, as brusque and domineering as Paul is kind—who Paul refuses to acknowledge. Chloé embarks on an investigation to learn what drove the siblings part, while also entering into a steamy and often violent affair with Louis. And she begins to have hallucinatory fantasies about sex with both brothers simultaneously—in one case morphing into a twin herself. Added to the mix is talk of “cannibal,” “parasitic,” or “vanishing” twins, and by the close the question is raised whether Chloé’s psychological problems might not stem from something she is unaware of in her own life. Double Lover may not be strong on logic, but it boasts plenty of style, as well as a dreamily enigmatic vibe and a sly mixture of playful sexuality and mordant humor. This elegantly crafted example of Ozon’s ability to evoke the slippery, ever-changing dimensions of human experience is recommended. (F. Swietek)