A movie called Swimming Pool is bound to have some good swimming pool scenes, right? Even better, a French movie called Swimming Pool! The cover art featuring the lovely Ludivine Sagnier catching some rays is enough to make you want to grab your suit and jump in, but there’s much more in store for you with this strange little drama than just a quick dip with a French (and often nude) hottie. Charlotte Rampling (excellent as always) plays a British mystery author whose much-needed getaway at her publisher’s vacation home in southern France is thrown into disarray by the sudden appearance of the publisher’s daughter, a wild and promiscuous free spirit who shows the uptight scribbler how to really enjoy a sabbatical. Or is that really what’s going on? A sexy ode to creative inspiration and the unexpected places we find it, this Swimming Pool is well worth getting into — and not just because of the poolside scene (about 27 min. in) where Sagnier sits there completely topless whilst engaging in idle chit-chat with Rampling like nothin’ was nothin’. Par bleu!
Mike Nichols‘ classic coming-of-age story stars Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin, a recent college graduate who has no idea what he should do with the rest of his life. He spends his first summer post-graduation at his parents’ house in southern California, where he embarks on an affair with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the wife of his father’s law partner. The now-famous swimming pool scene starts at about 38 minutes in — set to Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” (and, later, “April Come She Will”), the montage chronicles (via some very clever and creative editing) Benjamin’s idyllic summer in which he spends his days floating on a raft in his parents’ pool and his evenings at the Taft Hotel enjoying trysts with Mrs. Robinson. Eventually, things stop being so laid-back (boy, do they), but for a while, Benjamin’s life was but a dream filled with bright sunshine, chlorinated water and hot cougar sex. An earlier bonus swimming pool scene (about 22 minutes in) features Benjamin giving a “practical demonstration” of his 21st birthday present from his father: a wetsuit and full scuba gear.
Meet the Parents is a tale of excruciating agony in which nothing goes right for a well-meaning male nurse named Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) who’s out to impress the parents of his would-be fiancee (Teri Polo). Stiller’s a good sport in this one, playing both fall guy and human punching bag as he continually humiliates himself and constantly raises the ire of his ladyfriend’s father (Robert De Niro), an ex-CIA operative who even subjects the poor dude to a lie detector test at one point. Most of the film takes place over the weekend of Polo’s sister’s wedding, where the activities include a water volleyball game (at just about the one-hour mark) during which Stiller can’t seem do anything right and is constantly berated by the rest of his team. Fueled by frustration, he eventually spikes the ball a bit too hard and ends up slamming it into the face of the bride-to-be (Nicole DeHuff). “It’s only a game, Focker!” yells James Rebhorn as Blythe Danner jumps into the pool fully clothed to rescue her whimpering, bleeding daughter. Sigh.
This sad, scary, wintry Swedish tale chronicles the intense and unique friendship between an oft-bullied young boy who lives with his single mother and the vampire girl who moves into his apartment building with her “father.” Let the Right One In is all about tone and atmosphere, though there are a handful of beautiful and startling visual flourishes — the best of these is saved for last. At about an hour and 40 minutes in, Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) — and, indeed, the audience — are held underwater by a bunch of young thugs; as he struggles to keep from drowning, we catch glimpses and hear muddled snippets of the violent rampage the vampire is inflicting above water as she comes to her friend’s rescue, part of which includes a severed head and arm silently sinking to the bottom of the pool. It’s a triumph of excellent underwater photography, perfectly timed choreography and top-notch sound design — director Matt Reeves would offer his own impressive variation of this scene in his American remake, Let Me In, but the original sequence is truly breathtaking.
Director Hal Ashby’s instant cult classic follows the rather touching romance between a young man (Bud Cort) and a much, much older woman (Ruth Gordon). Harold is a rich weirdo who’s obsessed with death; he spends most of his time staging fake suicides, crashing funerals and driving a hearse, activities that don’t quite thrill his socialite mother (Vivian Pickles). The suicide sequences provide some of the film’s biggest laughs, but the funniest of these (about 12 minutes in) is also the simplest: classical music plays as Harold’s mother prepares to go in her pool — after she gets in and starts swimming to the other side, the camera simply pulls back a little, revealing Harold floating face-down in the water, dressed in a dark suit, pretending to have drowned. The music continues as Harold’s mother glances at her ridiculous son and simply rolls her eyes as she continues her journey across the pool. The very next scene has Harold in a psychiatrist’s office: “Tell me, Harold, how many of these suicides have you performed?” the doctor asks. “An accurate number would be difficult to gauge,” he replies. The same goes for how many times you’ll laugh out loud while watching this pretty amazing little movie.