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ThinkFilm // Unrated // October 25, 2005
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Svet Atanasov | posted November 7, 2005 | E-mail the Author

The film:

Structured somewhat similarly to Memento and its reversed way of storytelling Francois Ozon's 5 x 2 (Five Times Two) follows the brittle relationship between Marion (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) and Gilles (Stephane Freiss). This is indeed a film that takes us back to what Ozon became known for- his unparalleled ability to dissect human relationships where things are not as simple as they appear. 5 x 2 is structured as a collage of five scenes where we witness the genesis of a union which right from the beginning we are told is doomed. There is hardly any surprise in the manner in which the storyline is built, from the opening scene all the way through the finale the outcome of the love relationship between Marion and Gilles is well known.

5 x 2 begins with a plain yet very convincing scene where we see a lawyer explaining the details of a divorce settlement between Marion and Gilles. Shortly after they sign the accord the couple exits the lawyer's office, heads to a nearby hotel, and succumbs to an intense and passionate sex. There is barely any dialog between the two protagonists, the little which they share hardly provides any "logical" explanation for their actions and not until later in the film do we realize that there have been additional motives that "justify" their deeds.

As the film progresses we are introduced to the circumstances that eventually will lead to the collapse of Marion and Gilles' union. We first see them encounter each other during a vacation trip where Gilles shares a room with his soon-to-be wife. Slowly yet very convincingly Ozon follows the demise of a relationship and the birth of a new one which will eventually suffer a familiar fate. The camera pursues the romantic build-up between Marion and Gilles and from that point on all the way through the end of 5 x 2 similar to a puzzle we are allowed to add up small pieces to a story which we know will end tragically.

5 x 2 in my opinion is clearly a film that bears a heavy resemblance with the manner in which theater plays are constructed. Each major fragment of the film, or scene, is perfectly assembled as to address a specific aspect of the relationship between Marion and Gilles. Quite frankly this is the very reason why Ozon manages to present a convincing story-although we are told what the outcome of the union between the two protagonists is we do not know what the circumstances that lead to it are. Ozon does a wonderful job in revealing only enough of the details surrounding Marion and Gilles' divorce so that we can continue to follow the story with interest.

Yes, this is indeed a film where huge gaps are being left to be filled with information and while for some features this could be regarded as a negative occurrence for Ozon it is an excellent way to manipulate an otherwise predictable story. The result is an unusual, often inviting interpretation film where two emotionally rich characters are being followed by the camera of a filmmaker with an agenda. In addition, the beautiful and expressive look of 5 x 2 truly puts the entire story between some of the better examples of doomed relationships shot on film.

How Does the DVD Look? Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's 5 x 2 looks deceivingly good. Contrast appears rather well handled though detail is not overly impressive, tone colors largely well-rendered, and edge-enhancement tolerable. With other words you might think that the transfer is well-above average if you view the film on a regular tube. The bigger problem with this transfer stems from the fact that ThinkFilm have used a PAL master for this release which obviously delivers a good dose of the dreaded "ghosting". Quite a frustrating occurrence indeed as I was hoping that after the fiasco with Kontroll the company would certainly head into a different direction. Either way this is a transfer that is improperly flagged (why the PAL port??) and viewers with sensitive high-end equipment should be aware of it.

How Does the DVD Sound? The DVD offers the option of viewing the film with either the original French 5.1 or 2.0 tracks. Each of them sound quite well and really don't have any major reservations aside from the fact that the film should have perhaps been offered with the DTS track that was present on the French double disc. With optional English subtitles.

Extras: A few of the extras provided on the French disc appear to have made it here:

Deleted scenes -(selected deleted scenes that bring additional insight look on the relationship between Marion and Gilles. Quite frankly I think that Ozon was correct about not having them incorporated into the film as they provide very little to enhance the story.

The Making of 5 x 2- Auditions- a collage of scenes showing the actual auditions for the film where the actors present their lines.

Lighting Tests- I truly enjoyed this piece of extra material as somehow it brought out more of the stunning visual power of Ozon's film. Be warned- it is a very short one!

Gallery of trailers for other ThinkFilm releases-

Final Words: A simple yet very convincing look at a relationship where all seems too banal to follow…yet, it is not. Ozon has delivered another film where the main characters are as real as they can be involved in a story that many would deem as "too predictable". It is the little things that matter in this film, the fine nuances that make a relationship last or miserably fail. A great watch for those that like to analyze their films over and over again. RECOMMENDED.

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