5 x 2 is a terribly accurate portrayal of love over its natural life, which is here shown in snatches of the couple’s lives, played in reverse. Of an increasingly popular conceit, this 2004 film was only recently released here and shows a remarkable handling and skill by its director and actors to present a very dour and ironic, but highly realistic, story.
Beginning with the iciness of divorce, the film thrusts us backwards through the lives of a young married French couple, Giles (Stéphane Freiss) and Marion (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). Structured between tragic Italian songs are the important moments of their life together: the birth of their children, their marriage, and their meeting. As the film heads backward through time the development of their love, in reverse, is revealed as the pressures mounting on their relationship melt away to the joy and giddiness of falling in love.
This is a demanding film if you believe in the endurance and importance of love, but for the cynics and the pessimists only offers further ammunition. Despite your feelings on the matter, it is an accurate catalogue of the stresses and demands of modern life and marriage, with elements that will ring true to our own, or our friends’ or parents’, experiences.
While not seeing all aspects of their life and influences, the ‘development’ of the characters leads to constant review of our beliefs about them, in a refreshing but petty “he said, she said” style that audiences will identify with easily. This is however clouded by our knowledge of the destination of the marriage, and in this it is perhaps even more heartbreaking than if the film built-up to said divorce, despair and the parting of ways.
But this is not merely the tale of Giles and Marion, but their families as well. Her parents’ marriage shows equal strain, but reflects their generation and beliefs about the institution and appropriate gender roles, as well as the struggles of his gay brother.
Whether cynic or romantic, Ozon realistically pilots the traditional institution of marriage through the elements of modern life, and we all may see parts of our daily struggle, whether as an individual or in our relationships, to find order, meaning and satisfaction.
DIRECTED BY FRANÇOIS OZON