5×2 (2004)

Told in five chapters in reverse chronological order, Ozon charts the disintegration of a marriage in this well-acted bittersweet film.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review #2,341

Dir. Francois Ozon
2004 | France | Drama/Romance | 87 mins | 1.85:1 | French, English & Italian
R21 (passed clean) for strong graphic sexuality, language and some drug content

Cast: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Stephane Freiss, Francoise Fabian, Michael Lonsdale, Geraldine Pailhas
Plot: Five stages in the romance between a woman and a man, told in reverse chronological order.
Awards: Won Pasinetti Award – Best Actress & Nom. for Golden Lion (Venice)
International Sales: Celluloid Dreams

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Marriage; Divorce; Romance
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: MUBI
Spoilers: No

This will be a bitter pill to swallow if you recently had a breakup or divorce.  But for those, including myself, whose memories of a failed romance still linger somewhere in the mind, 5×2 may provoke some self-reflection. 

It has been more than five years since I turned single again, but this film very much affirms my belief that long-term relationships will eventually turn out to be disappointing—it’s just a matter of time and being comfortable with bearing it out. 

But that’s just my very pessimistic view.  Francois Ozon manages to capture the gist of that without heavy sentiment or judgment. 

Through the disintegration of a marriage between Marion (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, who won an acting award at Venice for her nuanced performance here) and Gilles (Stephane Freiss), Ozon shows us in five segments what could be the cause, strategically from a reverse chronological order. 

“I neither won nor lost. It’s over, that’s all.”

The early 2000s, as you might recall, was a time when a number of filmmakers experimented with that narrative technique, most notably in Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000), but most powerfully in Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible (2002) and Lee Chang-dong’s Peppermint Candy (1999). 

Its use in 5×2 feels rather nondescript; nevertheless, the very nature of tracking a relationship at its nadir towards a brighter past does give more psychological depth than a standard A-Z style of storytelling. 

5×2 might not be the most interesting of Ozon’s early works, but it does try to say something about why humans, at some point in their lives, would need to grapple with the loss of interest in upholding personal and social responsibilities to another.

Grade: B+



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