By Daniel Barnes
*Opens Wednesday, February 14, at the Landmark Opera Plaza and AMC Kabuki in San Francisco, and the Rialto Elmwood in Berkeley.
Hard-working genre chameleon François Ozon follows up his bland, black-and-white historical drama Frantz with this juicy erotic thriller about a slightly unstable woman whose relationship with her ex-analyst grows even more complicated when she starts sleeping with his sadistic twin brother. Sporting that Binoche-in-Damage pixie cut that practically screams “illicit sexual awakening,” Young and Beautiful star Marine Vacth does more “brave” work as Chloé, a woman simultaneously drawn to and repelled by the increasingly unhinged sexual violence of her boyfriend’s twin. A romantic nightmare cheekily scheduled for release on Valentine’s Day, Double Lover returns Ozon to the faux-Hitchcock territory he previously visited in Swimming Pool, and he brings his trademark dollop of bratty transgression (instead of a swirling shower drain dissolving into a woman’s eye, we get a speculum-spread vagina). If Double Lover had even one-eighth of the cinematic zest of one of Brian De Palma’s Hitchcock knockoffs, this might have been more than a perverse diversion.