Mirrored Lives

François Ozon is the prolific French writer-director behind Swimming Pool, In The House and Potiche. His latest film, a psychosexual thriller, is a loose adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ Lives of the Twins. Marine Vacth, his star from 2013’s Young & Beautiful, plays Chloé, a museum guard who becomes romantically involved with her shrink, Paul (Jérémie Renier), and then his identical twin brother Louis (also Renier).

ASFF: What made you want to adapt Joyce Carol Oates’ novel Lives of the Twins?
FO: I loved the plot. And the book was already very playful so I tried to keep this mood, and to tell the story in the best way – with suspense, with fun, with gore, with horror. I wanted to mix all these things. Each film is a new experimentation. But I never know exactly what will be the film.

ASFF: You partly set the film in the art world. Why?
FO: It was a real question for me, wondering what job to give her. In the book, she was a model which I thought wasn’t all that interesting for my film. I got the idea to put her in a museum. I think twins are works of art and I wanted to show that nature is really capable of creating masterpieces, and here in the museum, she’s surrounded by all this artwork that’s a reflection of what’s going on in her mind and also in her body.

ASFF: Did you meet any twins as part of your research?
Yes, I met many twins and there are many stories! I could make many other films about twins. Quite fascinating! Especially when the twins are young, they play with that. It’s a usual game for twins. Not all but many of them. They pretend to be the other one, someone else, and very often they use [that] for sex experiences. I would’ve loved to be a twin!

ASFF: Was Jérémie Renier your first choice to play the twins?
No, he was not my first choice. I had the feeling he was maybe too young for this part. I met him when he was very young – just 17 – so for me, he’s still a teenager. When I first chose Marine [Vacth], I was trying a lot of other actors. But I thought Jérémie and I are friends, I will give him a try, but I didn’t have high hopes. I was agreeably surprised because he’s matured since I’d worked with him before. He’d become very virile.

ASFF: Were some actors frightened of this role?
FO: One very famous one – he said “yes.” I won’t give you the name. But then when I added the scene with the dildo, he said: “I’m not sure!” Male actors are more frightened on many cases than the females; they’re afraid of their virility being put into question. Maybe women are braver in general. Maybe they don’t also get so many meaty roles so they’re ready to jump in, but also for me, a really good male actor is an actor who accepts his feminine side.

L’Amant Double opens in cinemas on 1 June. For more details, visit Curzon.

James Mottram

1. Still from L’Amant Double.