Chloe (Marine Vacth) is a disturbed young woman who falls in love with her psychoanalyst, Paul (Jeremie Renier). As she becomes suspicious of her new partner’s past she discovers that he has an identical twin brother, and the two become embroiled in a passionate affair. However all is not as it seems as her mind deteriorates further, blurring the line between fantasy and reality.
Francois Ozon directs a tense but playful psychological thriller. Occasionally indulging in outright horror, the film maintains an unsettling atmosphere throughout. There are twists and revelations that drive the narrative forwards. Where the film excels, however, is in its more deliberate moments of tension. A frightening sequence in which Chloe visits her figure from the brother’s past is particularly unsettling.
The film looks beautiful and is willing to indulge in provocative abstract imagery. I was reminded of Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan as Chloe is chased through a bleak environment by her own personal demons made flesh. Ozon indulges in melodrama as the narrative becomes more and more outlandish. The effect can be very comical, but there’s something knowing about its lunacy.
The film features graphic sex sequences, though these scenes are as often disturbing as they are erotic. Subjects of control, sadism and lust are explored through Chloe’s fantasies. I’m reminded of Elle and conclude that cinema can be a safe place to explore such desires, and that ultimately the film does not vindicate the male character’s actions, nor Chloe’s response. The sequences in question though, can be difficult to watch.
Marine Vacth is powerful as the troubled Chloe. She is deeply sympathetic and yet capable of terrifying madness. Jeremie Renier is very convincing in his dual roles. Though Paul feels a little under-developed, Louis is a convincingly charismatic force of nature.
L’amant Double is a stunning and meticulously paced thriller that excites and terrifies.
4.5 / 5