Wednesday, March 29, 2006

See the Sea (Ozon, 1997)

The most compelling aspect of Francois Ozon’s See the Sea is the way it leads viewers through almost the entirety of its 52-minute running time without revealing definitively just what kind of film it is. It begins ominously enough with a young mother living in a beach house with her infant girl whom she cares for on her own while her husband in away on business. As they lounge upon the beach, a mysterious female traveler happens by and gazes at them from a cliff high above. From the way Ozon shoots this scene, it is immediately clear that this new presence is some kind of a threat – but of what variety? Is she a violent threat? A threat to the baby’s safety? Or perhaps she is a threat to the mother’s sexual curiosity and the make-up of the traditional family. Her emotional distance also suggests that she could be a threat to herself. The mother’s eagerness to see the goodness in people leads her to make several questionable choices including allowing the stranger to pitch her tent in the front yard and later watch the baby while leaves the house to do a few errands. As the two women learn more about each other, it becomes clear that they are interacting with distortions of themselves, living lives heading in opposite directions. The way Ozon resolves this difference allows us to finally look back and realize what sort of a film we’ve been watching all along. I was not entirely pleased with the film’s resolution, as Ozon once again demonstrates that despite his style and sexual digressions, he is a filmmaker content to walk down well-trodden paths. However, the film is worth seeing for the way Ozon is able to create a feeling of suspense merely in the way he strings together events that individually would seem entirely ordinary.



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