La Piscine (The Swimming Pool)
(France/Italy/1969—directed by Jacques Deray)
In idyllic St. Tropez, lovers Alain Delon and Romy Schneider are immersed in a wildly picturesque, sensuously lazy vacation by the swimming pool (la piscine) — until her ex (Maurice Ronet) drops in unannounced with his daughter (Jane Birkin) in tow. As a former ménage à trois threatens to become a ménage à quatre, intrigue mounts, tensions swell and mortal consequences loom.
For many years a cult thriller in France, where it's celebrated as a masterpiece of Gallic Noir, this shimmering, richly colored restoration of director Jacques Deray’s ever-so-French 1969 mixture of eroticism, sunshine, and revenge became the surprise hit of New York’s arthouse circuit this summer, drawing around-the-block lines of lockdown-weary Manhattanites to the sun-splashed but risky (in a different way) vacation we’ve all been dreaming of.
Music by Michel Legrand, with a screenplay co-authored by Jean-Claude Carrière; remade by Luca Guadagnino in 2015 as A Bigger Splash, with Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton. Restored in 4K from the original 35mm camera negative. In French with English subtitles. (122 minutes)
“A striking, pristine restoration! Pretty people behaving poorly in beautiful settings is something we don’t see as much of in cinema. This is a master class in the subgenre, and one of unusual depth.” -Glenn Kenny, The New York Times
“Occasionally we see a film so compulsively enjoyable that it forces the highbrow viewer to own up: one that takes his or her notion of a Guilty Pleasure and elevates it to the status of High Art. Few films pull off this trick as consummately as La Piscine.” -David Melville, Senses of Cinema
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