CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 12A
  • Drama
  • 1969

La Piscine

La Piscine

Synopsis

Sexual tension turns deadly in a French drama starring Sixties sex symbols Alain Delon, Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin

About

Re-released by Park Circus Films in September 2011 - follow @ParkCircusFilms on Twitter

The impossibly attractive Jean-Paul (played by Alain Delon) and his impossibly attractive girlfriend, Marianne (played by Romy Schneider), spend their summer at an isolated villa near St. Tropez, sunbathing, having exquisite sex and plunging into the eponymous pool. Their routine is disrupted by the arrival of old friend Harry (Maurice Roney) and Penelope (Jane Birkin), the 18-year-old daughter they didn't know he had. Though Harry is supposedly Jean-Paul's friend, Jean-Paul believes that Marianne knows him far more intimately and this festering suspicion, coupled with Jean-Paul's scarcely suppressed desire for Penelope, creates a perfect storm of sexual jealousy that leads to a watery tragedy and eventually arouses the interest of a Gallic gumshoe.

The film clearly belongs to a different time: one when French actors were unquestionably the coolest on Earth and when insouciantly smoking Galouises was the sexiest action anyone could undertake. Some of the Sixties decor and dancing is a little laughable in the post-Austin Powers era, but in general the film has aged well. The tension, both sexual and dramatic, constantly crackles and the casting is practically perfect. Delon and Schneider showcase the chemistry that made them lovers in real life (particularly in a scene in which he whips her bare back with a branch lustily torn from a tree) and Birkin, in the year in which her faux-orgasmic groans on Serge Gainsbrough's UK number one ‘Je t'aime' brought her international infamy, is superb as a sullen, long-legged Lolita.

The problems come with the characters. All of them start off as irresistibly sexy but soon show themselves to be shallow and self-obsessed, and so it becomes difficult to care who ends up doing what to whom. Also, every time Harry is alone with his daughter, things turn a bit Bouquet of Barbed Wire and the incestuous undercurrents are uncomfortable to observe (although they do add an extra frisson to the developing love quadrangle).

Ultimately, La Piscine plays like mash-up of the French classics Le Mepris and Les Diaboliques, though it's not quite in their class. If you loved them, you'll like this. If you've yet to watch them, however, they are certainly more deserving of your time.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Alain Delon, Jane Birkin, Romy Schneider
  • Director: Jacques Deray
  • Screen Writer: Jean-Claude Carrière
  • Composer: Jean-Jacques Tarbes

In a nutshell

A sexy but slow-moving slice of Sixties style that merits more attention than its been given on this side of the Channel. Its hardly an overlooked classic, though.

by Scott Jordan Harris

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    The Day He Arrives

    Comedy-drama from South Korean director Hong Sang-soo. A film director visits a friend in Seoul, but his trip begins to resemble a romantic version of Groundhog Day

    On Film4: 6 Nov 1:30AM

  • Film4

    In Another Country

    South Korean director Hong Sang-soo's drama stars Isabelle Huppert in three separate stories about French women who travel to a Korean seaside town.

    On Film4: 3 Nov 12:00AM

  • Film4

    The Debt on Film4

    Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington & Jessica Chastain star in John Madden's Nazi-hunting thriller

  • Film4 Evil Dead

    Halloween Weekend on Film4

    Two nights of spooks, shocks and scares to celebrate Halloween Weekend on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Joe Cunningham's 11 recommendations for LFF 14

    Unfortunately I haven¿t been jet setting around the world this year to the various exciting international film festivals, but that¿s what makes the London Film Festival¿s compilation approach to progr

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Michael Leader's 11 recommendations for LFF 2014

    One of the best things about the London Film Festival¿s smorgasbord approach to programming is that, amongst the world premieres and gala screenings, there¿s an eclectic collection of exciting films o

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share