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Film / La Piscine

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La Piscine (The Swimming Pool) is a 1969 Italian-French Psychological Thriller film directed by Jacques Deray, starring Alain Delon, Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin.

Marianne (Schneider) and Jean-Paul (Delon) spend their holidays in the villa of a friend, near Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera. Marianne hears that Harry, a friend, is in Saint-Tropez, so she invites him. He visits them with his daughter Penelope (Birkin). Marianne suggests they should spend a couple of days in the villa and Harry accepts.

A loose Remake named A Bigger Splash, directed by Luca Guadagnino and intended as the middle installment of his Desire Thematic Trilogy, was released in 2015. It starred Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Dakota Johnson.

It should not be confused with Swimming Pool, a 2003 French thriller directed by François Ozon.


La Piscine provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Jean-Paul is a recovered alcoholic. After a quarrel with Marianne, he starts drinking a lot of whisky again.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In the French version, Marianne talks on the phone with Harry in English and her lines are not translated.
  • Bottle Episode: The film is almost entirely set in a French Riviera villa, with a main cast of five.
  • Broken Ace: Jean-Paul is a handsome guy who has a good job in an advertising agency. He has a beautiful girlfriend and he spends his holidays in a big villa on the French Riviera. However, he is dissatisfied with life. He dreamed of becoming a writer and he failed. He even tried to commit suicide because of this failure. He is a recovered alcoholic. In the end, he becomes a murderer.
  • Bungled Suicide: After the failure of his book, Jean-Paul tried to commit suicide, but he survived.
  • Advertisement:
  • Cool Car: Harry has a Maserati Ghibli. When he arrives, Marianne immediately notices the beautiful car. Later, Jean-Paul asks to drive it.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Over the course of the film, we realize that Jean-Paul is a recovered alcoholic and that he tried to commit suicide.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: Whether Jean-Paul and Penelope had sex when they went swimming together is left ambiguous.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: When Jean-Paul and Penelope come back to the villa after swimming together, Harry and Marianne suspect that they had sex together. However, during the dinner, they only talk about insignificant subjects.
  • Fanservice: This film features two leading sex symbols of their time, Alain Delon and Romy Schneider, in and around a swimming pool. You draw conclusions.
  • Foreshadowing: Penelope reads a detective novel, which is a sign that there will be a murder.
  • Foreshadowing: The morning after the spontaneous party, Jean-Paul complains that he completely fails at some days, and this is going to be one of them. The day ends with him becoming a murderer.
  • Karma Houdini: Jean-Paul murders Harry, but the police does not have enough evidence to arrest him, so he gets away with it.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: After drowning Harry, Jean-Paul removes his clothes, hides them and puts dry clothes by the swimming pool, so that it looks like Harry drowned himself.
  • Moment Killer: In the opening scene, Jean-Paul and Marianne are going to have sex by the pool (Jean-Paul has already removed Marianne's bra), when the phone rings. Marianne wants to pick it up.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Jean-Paul is a would-be writer who has eventually given literature up. He presently works in an advertising agency.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Harry is Marianne's ex-lover and he flirts with her. Jean-Paul, Marianne's boyfriend, murders him.
  • New Old Flame: Harry is Marianne's ex-lover. They start flirting again, until Jean-Paul murders Harry.
  • Off the Wagon: After a quarrel with Marianne, Jean-Paul, a recovered alcoholic, starts drinking whisky again.
  • Overprotective Dad: Harry tells Jean-Paul that his daughter Penelope is off-limits and that he will never see her again when he suspects that Jean-Paul had sex with her. Justified because Penelope is only 18 and Jean-Paul is much older.
  • The Place: The eponymous swimming pool, which is the centrepiece of the villa and is arguably a character on its own.
  • Pool Scene: Pool movie, in this case. The characters spend most of their time in or by the pool, so there are many fan-servicy shots of Alain Delon and Romy Schneider in swimsuits.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Harry delivers one to Jean-Paul at night by the swimming pool, just before falling into it. Harry tells that Jean-Paul is a selfish spoilt child, who has been always handled too carefully because he nearly killed himself when he was 17. This speech urges Jean-Paul to murder Harry.
  • Recovered Addict: Jean-Paul was an alcoholic, but he stopped drinking. During the party, he complains about the fact that he is asked to open the bottles, but that he cannot drink them.
  • Rule of Pool: Harry eventually falls into the swimming pool. Then Jean-Paul does not let him out and even drowns him.
  • Shirtless Scene: Jean-Paul (played by Alain Delon) is often shirtless by the pool (for example in the opening scene).
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: In the opening scene, Marianne gets out of the pool in bikini and reveals her wet body. There is a close-up of her body when she gets close to Jean-Paul.
  • Triang Relations:
    • Type 7: Marianne is in a relationship with Jean-Paul, but when Harry, her former lover, shows up, she lets him seduce her.
    • Type 7: Jean-Paul is in a relationship with Marianne, but he is charmed by the young Penelope.
  • With Friends Like These...: Jean-Paul and Harry are supposed to be friends but Harry constantly belittles Jean-Paul and he flirts with Jean-Paul's girlfriend. From his part, Jean-Paul flirts with Harry's 18-year-old daughter and he finally murders him.

Alternative Title(s): The Swimming Pool