by Gunnar Heinrich ::: img via YouTube ::: The Swimming Pool | La Piscine (1969)
LIFE ought to be good for Jean-Claude. No. F$*k good. Life oughta be awesome. But what was that line about the restless nature of men’s souls and our drive to reach ever further? To never be satisfied? Well, La Piscine – or The Swimming Pool – is a ’60s flick directed by Jacques Deray that essentially focuses on four very aroused and bronzed French vacationers lounging in and around a swimming pool on the grounds of some villa in the South of France. They, who despite having much that should sate their desires, are still left lusting after things that aren’t theirs. And shouldn’t be.
At the intersection of greed, lust, and envy enters a Maserati Ghibli. Neptune’s chariot rumbles with 335 horsepower and has an onscreen swagger that compliments Marianne’s (Romy Schneider) lithe blondness. Naturally, she finds a moment to caress the Italian stud’s long hood admiringly. But, you see, the Maserati rather than being a pleasure catalyst is rendered more a pitchfork that prods into old wounds so as to create new vendettas.
Our protagonist, Jean Claude (Alain Delon) holds the Maserati’s owner Harry (Maurice Ronet) in bitter contempt. Harry is not only rich but he was a friend once and is no longer. And Harry has designs on Jean-Claude’s Marianne. Catch is, Jean-Claude wants Harry’s 18-year old daughter Penelope (Jane Birkin). The whole thing dissolves into a hot, Gallic mess and naturally the plot takes a swan dive into shallow waters. Three people get sexed and the one who doesn’t ends up dead.
It’s twisted. But the film’s director manages to showcase the cast members’ supple curves so expertly, the electricity of their tense state, and even the Maser’s bravado from all the right angles that we can’t help but feel like we’re there, back then, with them. Feeling that V8 through gears. Swimming in their waters. Drinking their wine. Lusting along with them…
Trouble in paradise never seemed so seductive – or entertaining.