The ambiguous end of the film “Swimming Pool” by François Ozon with Ludivine Sagnier and Charlotte Rampling did not fail to disturb the spectators. Find out what the French director has to say.
Swimming Pool: Ludivine at the pool
Released in 2003, swimming pool is the sixth feature film by François Ozon. For the occasion, he reunited with Ludivine Sagnier (whom he had directed in Water drops on hot stones and 8 Women) and Charlotte Rampling (whom he had directed in under the sand).
Presented in official competition at the 56th Cannes Film Festival, the film takes place almost exclusively in a sublime villa in the Luberon. It is in this house belonging to her publisher that the English novelist Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling) tries to find inspiration for her new detective novel. There, she meets Julie (Ludivine Sagnier), the daughter of her publisher. Very quickly, a relationship disturbing between the two women settles, between fascination and repulsion.
An ambiguous ending
If you’ve seen François Ozon’s film, the ending certainly left you wondering. Like Mulholland Drive by David Lynch, the French director sought to cover the tracks between fantasy and reality. Indeed, while we thought that everything Sarah lived was real, the last minutes of the film prove us the opposite. Julie disappears, and when she returns to her editor’s office, she meets her daughter, Julia. Although the two young women have very similar physical and first names, they are two different people.
The most plausible explanation is that Sarah imagined the character of Julie as the heroine of her novel, and the line between fiction and reality became blurred in her mind, also sowing doubt in that of the spectators. Julie didn’t really exist.
When promoting swimming pool, François Ozon had the opportunity to speak about this disturbing end. In particular, he explained from an interview :
In the creative process, things are never simple. What is real, and what is not? How to separate fantasy from reality? This theme is also evoked in Sous le sable, when the character of Charlotte confuses dream and reality. In Swimming Pool, everything that is of the order of fantasy stems from the art of creating (…) in terms of production, I have treated everything that is of the order of the imaginary in the same way as realistic as possible, to blur the border. When telling a story, it is essential to immerse yourself in the logic of perception of the characters in order to identify with them. To experience the same emotions.
Confronted with the different reactions of the public, François Ozon said he was very happy that the end caused so much debate. Thereby, he declared to washington post :
I’ve always wanted to make an interactive film, in which each viewer imagines their own version of Sarah Morton’s novel. It makes me very happy if viewers have interpretations that I haven’t thought of (…)