Two for the Road
, 19 Oct 2005
One of the most striking, and brilliant, films of 2005 is Francois Ozon's 5 X 2. In this Ozon conducts something of an autopsy of love, over 5 segments charting thorugh backwards chronology the relationship between his husband and wife characters. Two for the Road plays like a proto 5 X 2. There's certainly many differences; first of all there's the structure while 5 X 2 simply unfolds backwards Two for the Road is far more complex, cutting across the years at more or less random points and in no discernable order. This is at once a strength and a weakness of the film as while it captures the chaos of the relationship between the characters and provides some beautifully edited moments it's also a frustratingly obscure way to structure the film, particularly given that the only signposts of the flashbacks and flashforwards are changing hairstyles, wardrobe and cars. However at least the structure means we never have to spend long with the supremely annoying characters played by William Daniels, Eleanor Bron and young Gabrielle Middelton. Outside of those sequences though Two for the Road is an excellent film. It's beautifully played by Finney and, particularly, Hepburn who has most to do and plays against type. Hepburn is completely out of her comfort zone in this film, she's not dressed by Givenchy, but mainly by Mary Quant and she's far more overtly sexual than she ever was before. Hepburn also gets to swear; okay she says 'bast**d' twice but coming from her even such mild profanity is shocking. Going from the flighty young thing we're used to seeing her play to an embittered, unhappily married thirty something (though that can't have been hard as she was an unhappily married thirty seven when the film was made) she's outstanding in every scene. There's enough fun stuff (including a particularly lovely moment at some traffic lights) in the early part of Mark and Joanna's relationship to keep the film from being a series of arguments and keep the audience happily entertained. The structure might make Two for the Road a tough sell for some audiences but if you like to engage your brain as well as being told a story and can accept a more acidic take on relationships than most rom-com fluff of today dishes up then you'd do well to check out this fine, if occasionally frustrating, film.
- Was this review helpful to you?
(8) Yes |