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La Piscine (1969)

My Alain Delon season has been interrupted by the Euros but I saw this film last night. It reflects the best and worst of French cinema.

The best?

A beautiful villa location in St Tropez with beautiful people – Alain Delon, Romy Schneider, Jane Birkin.

The worst ?

It has its longeurs and the inevitable accent on meals.

The story is that Jean Paul (Alain Delon) and his girlfriend Marianne (Romy Schneider) rent a villa with a pool in St Tropez.

Their relationship is intensely sexual.

In the first scene their lovemaking poolside is interrupted by a visit by Harry, a musician, with his young daughter Penelope (Jane Birkin).

Harry was a lover of Marianne and matters are complicated by Jean Paul seducing the nubile Penelope.

Jealousy replaces lust with a denouement of Harry drowning in the pool in circumstances that attract suspicion.

Alain Delon delivers a typically edgy performance.

Ironically, at almost exactly the same time, he was implicated in a scandal when his bodyguard Stefan Markovic’s body was found murdered in a dump.

A Corsican gangster was involved and there were rumours of sex parties involving the then President’s (Georges Pompidou) wife.

Romy Schneider was typical of those Northern European actress/beauties of that time – of which my favourite was Julie Christie – whilst a colleague of mine in The Rust has always coveted the Swiss actress Ursula Andress.

Jane Birkin made a career out of her sexuality, very-pronounced English French accent and, latterly, her Hermes handbags.

The film takes a twist at the end but up to then it’s the self-indulgent life of the rich and beautiful on the Riviera.

It’s done with sufficient taste and good acting not to be termed porn but ‘Me Too’ would probably object to the male-orientated sex scenes

I recently bought a book by the photographer Slim Aarons of the jet set and young women in bikinis with divine bodies of the 70s and 80s poolside in exotic locations and this film reminded  me of that era.



About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts