5X2 (2004)

“I don’t believe in fidelity, it’s not natural.”

It’s not unusual to find a film that examines the disintegration of a marriage. What makes director Francois Ozon’s film 5X2 different is that the film works backwards in time from the divorce to the day the couple first fell in love. With fine attention to detail and mood, Ozon reveals 5 crucial stages of the relationship beginning with the cold, clinical details of the divorce, a dinner party, the birth of the couple’s son, the wedding, and finally Gilles (Stephane Freiss) and Marion’s (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) romantic beginnings at a holiday resort.

Since the film begins with the couple’s divorce, we know how the story ends. But we don’t know how this relationship began–or more significantly where things went wrong. Starting with the bitter aftermath of a divorce, Ozon peels away the layers of unhappiness that constitutes this relationship and the story catalogues minor annoyances and major transgressions along the way.

Gilles and Marion’s story is somehow sadder for the reversed sequence of events, and the interesting element here is that just as we write Gilles off as a husband and father (in the third segment), in the fourth segment we see that Marion isn’t exactly without blame either. They chose to divorce while other couples in the film accept infidelity and rampant dislike as a matter of course. 5X2 is clever, dark and underneath the beautiful scenery and occasional slant towards romance, the film takes a stark, fatalistic view of human relationships. Anyone who has survived the destruction of a relationship should be able to relate to this film’s method of unraveling the crucial and complicated moments catalogued in a decaying marriage. 5X2 contains a fair amount of nudity and sex. In French with English subtitles.

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