Still waters run deep in this compelling psychological melodrama, which reunites filmmaker François Ozon with Charlotte Rampling two years after their first collaboration, "Under the Sand".
Once again the match proves fruitful, resulting in a Hitchcockian thriller that probes issues of feminity and creativity through the conflict between a repressed English novelist and a free-spirited French teenager.
Rampling plays Sarah Morton, a crime writer in the Ruth Rendell mould whose Inspector Dorwell books have made her a reluctant celebrity.
Accepting her editor's offer to use his holiday home in Provence, Sarah looks forward to a quiet summer of work and rest. But her plans are scuppered by the unexpected arrival of her publisher's precocious and promiscuous daughter, Julie (Ludivine Sagnier).
Julie's wildchild antics and string of boyfriends infuriate Sarah, especially when she seduces a local barman (Jean-Marie Lamour) whom the older woman had her eye on. One corpse later and the writer finds herself caught up in a genuine whodunit...
Imagine one of Eric Rohmer's elegant Moral Tales fused with "Les Diaboliques" and you'll have some idea what to expect from this beguiling mystery, which treads a thin line between fiction and reality against a sensual, sun-drenched backdrop.
Rampling and Sagnier are well-matched as social opposites turned wary allies, while Charles Dance makes the most of his few scenes as Sarah's well-meaning publisher.
But this is Ozon's movie. His subtle and atmospheric direction once again confirms his status as one of France's most talented and provocative auteurs.
"Swimming Pool" is released in the UK on Friday 22nd August 2003.