Original release: January 31st, sale 1969
Running time: 120 minutes
Country of origin: France/Italy
Original language: French
Writer and director: Jacques Deray
Composer: Michel Legrand
Cast: Alain Delon, and Romy Schneider, Maurice Ronet, Jane Birkin
Who wouldn’t want to spend their summer days lazing by a pool, in some secluded hideaway, sipping margaritas and making love until the sun comes up? Day after day after day… who would say no to that? Add Alain Delon and Romy Schneider to that and you have yourself an irresistible combination.
In this sizzling 1969 film, the duo play a couple, Jean-Paul and Marianne, who are enjoying the romantic and restful seclusion of a friend’s villa on Saint-Tropez heights in Southern France. Jean-Paul is a writer who’s had a recent bad spell, his last piece of work didn’t turn out so well and he’s been struggling with drink and depression for a while. Marianne is there with him for support, comfort and anything else that passes the time.
They spend their days by the pool, swimming, playing and making love. It’s warm there and the nights are hotter and they keep to themselves, never heading into town. They’re looked after by a maid who cleans, cooks and washes for them. It’s a beautiful and idyllic time.
Then Harry (Maurice Ronet), an old friend and record producer, arrives for a surprise visit with his 18 year-old daughter Penelope (Jane Birkin) and suddenly, things are thrown into disarray. Harry and Jean-Paul have a strained friendship that’s caused by the fact Marianne used to date him. While the former lovers rekindle their flames of passion, Jean-Paul and Penelope also become involved with each other, but one thing will lead to another and jealousy, aided by rising sexual tensions, leads to murder.
The murder itself is something we can see coming a mile off and in a lot of ways the only surprise is that it takes so long to happen. Harry is a terrible friend and he seems to follow the couple wherever they go, constantly putting down Jean-Paul, while at the same time longing for Marianne. I fail to understand what she sees in such a man when you can have one who looks like Alain Delon.
The first shot of him is where he’s laying by the pool in a pair of trunks that, for all intents and purposes, have no business being there at all. Then Romy Schneider appears and again, my eyes struggled to soak up the immense beauty of what I’m seeing. Had I ever seen two people so visually appealing and whose acting and chemistry with each other seemed so natural, so real? No, never before or since then.
Every frame of the film they occupy you can almost smell that unmistakable musky odour of sex with sweat and chlorine, it’s as intoxicating as the drinks they mix. Another potent element of La Piscine is the music. With pieces composed by Michel Legrand including Ask Yourself Why, Suspicion and Run Brother Rabbit Run along with Romy and Alain, it’s an impossible combination to resist.
As an investigation into Harry’s death begins, the mystery here is in finding out whether or not the couple will leave the villa together or separate. La Piscine is a film that’s brimming with sexuality and suspense with its two sizzling stars and sumptuous cinematography. The scenery around them is as appealing as they are and while watching it, despite the slight murder, there’s really a feeling of never wanting to leave the pool without them.
There’s much to enjoy in the film’s two hours and even by its end I remember wishing there was more even though the story is neatly wrapped up. But, like the summer, it too must to an end.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .