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‘Ozon: Remastered & Uncut’ review

French film director François Ozon is a boundary pusher and one of the most revered film-makers in the ‘New Wave’ in French cinema. His films ‘8 femmes’ (2002) and ‘Swimming Pool’ (2003) garnered critical acclaim and international attention, and he’s known for his unflinching and unapologetic explorations of human sexuality. Prior to becoming internationally renowned with the films mentioned, Ozon made a series of shorts which have been remastered and brought together for new release ‘Ozon: Remastered & Uncut’.

‘Ozon: Remastered & Recut’ collects five shorts made between 1994 and 1998. For long-time fans of the film-maker, this release is a welcome opportunity to revisit Ozon’s early work and look at how he helped shape modern French cinema. The collection opens with 1996’s ‘A Summer Dress’, a story that focuses on Luc (Frédéric Mangenot) who is in a relationship with his more effeminate boyfriend Sébastien (Sébastien Charles). Leaving the house to find peace and quiet, Luc winds up flirting and having sex with Lucia (Lucia Sanchez), a woman he meets on the beach. That interaction changes something in Luc and when he returns home, his newly awakened sexual appetite is unleashed. Considering the short was made in 1996, Ozon’s story is a bold one that focuses on the fluidity of human sexuality, and how pushing your own boundaries can bring about surprising results.

1998’s ‘X2000’ is a much more surreal affair that depicts a naked man (Bruno Slagmulder) stumbling through an apartment following a New Year’s Eve party. There isn’t a strong narrative with this one other so the viewer is required to guess what transpired prior to what you’re seeing, and how the man ended up in a situation where he seems unsure of his surroundings or the people he encounters. The third short, 1994’s ‘Truth or Dare’, is perhaps the most shocking of the shorts here. Four children sit in a circle to play a game of truth or dare, that gets increasingly more sexual and inappropriate. What starts off fairly innocently ends up with the four having to confront puberty and coming-of-age. This one certainly didn’t conclude the way I expected it to but it shows a good understanding of the naivety of children.

1997’s ‘See the Sea’ is a slow-building thriller about Sasha (Sasha Hails), a young woman who lives with her baby while her husband is working away. She takes in drifter Tatiana (Marina de Van) and the two find themselves building an unusual relationship with a menacing sexual undercurrent. Like much of Ozon’s work, this short will push you past the boundaries of comfortability as the power dynamic between the two women shifts, building to a gruesome end that you like you won’t see coming.

The final short on the collection is 1995’s ‘The Little Death’. Photographer Paul (François Delaive) lives with his boyfriend Martial (Martial Jacques) and he discovers, via his sister, that his father is on death’s door. That revelation stirs up complicated feelings in Paul and forces him to deal with the broken relationship he has with his father. When he visits the dying man in hospital, he gets out his camera and connects with him the only way he knows how – through his lens. ‘The Little Death’ is a thought-provoking film about grief and familial bonds.

‘Ozon: Remastered & Recut’ won’t be to everyone’s taste but if you like the director’s feature film work, you should check out this collection. He’s a provocateur that asks a lot of his audience and his film-making style is without a doubt challenging. At a time when cinema is bogged down with remakes, reboots and few original ideas, it’s refreshing to revisit Ozon’s early work, which is anything but pedestrian.

Ozon: Remastered & Uncut
Credit: NQV Media

Cast: Frédéric Mangenot, Lucia Sanchez, Sébastien Charles, Bruno Slagmulder, Sasha Hails, Marina de Van, François Delaive, Martial Jacques Director: François Ozon Writer: François Ozon Certificate: 18 Duration: 105 mins Released by: NQV Media Release date: 24th October 2022 Buy ‘Ozon: Remastered & Uncut’ now

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Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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