5x2 (2004) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's notes


Five by two. Two people; five scenes; reverse chronology. (I suppose it should be "minus five by two".)

We first see a couple at their divorce hearing, followed by some extremely awkward farewell sex which edges near to the borderline of rape, and even goes over that border. We step back a couple of years to a dinner party which demonstrates some cracks in their relationship. We step back again to the birth of their son, and the inexplicably remote behavior of the new father. We step back to their wedding ceremony and some insight into problems already appearing at that time. We finish at their first romantic encounter on a sun-kissed holiday. As the scenes move back in time, the increasing happiness of the relationship is reflected by a corresponding change in the film's color palette, which becomes ever warmer.

The reverse chronology technique jars us completely out of identification with the characters. The farther we go back, the more emotional distance appears between us and them, because we do not share their hopes and dreams. We watch the scenes knowing the relationship will come to nothing. Although the technique places a great distance between us and the characters, it has the effect of driving us farther inside ourselves, examining whether some things should have been evident to them, and why. Eventually, the film forces us into recognition of how much they are like us, normal people with a reasonable amount of hopefulness about their relationship, and the forced introspection makes us ask ourselves if our own relationships, past or present, show the same signs of deterioration. Of course, the script is calculated so that we will see ourselves, because there are no cataclysmic events nor great rifts between them, just the subtle, everyday cracks and fissures we all experience. Francois Ozon's script is, in that respect, deeply cynical, although that cynicism is covered by a veneer of straightforward  realism.

The emotional impact of the ending is uncannily effective. It is the couple's first encounter, and they literally go swimming off into the sunset, bathed in warm gold and orange hues. It stops right there - a classic Hollywood romantic ending, exactly as a Hollywood movie would present it. The difference, of course, is that the incredibly hopeful ending fills us with sadness, because we know the rest of the story and,  as Graham Greene once pointed out, baseless optimism is inherently much sadder to us than despair.



  • featurette: "The Making of 5x2"
  • auditions and lighting tests
  • deleted scenes
  • the widescreen transfer is anamorphically enhanced


Valerie Bruni-Tedeschi exposes the front of her body in total. Her bum is seen from oblique angles.

She shows her bum directly in a deleted scene.

Geraldine Pailhas showed one nipple

Tuna's notes

5x2 is a French tale of a disintegrating marriage that starts in the divorce courts, and shows five earlier time periods in the marriage of the two people, hence the title. The segments are shown in reverse chronological order, which changes the entire focus of the film for the viewer. The end of the marriage in an unfriendly divorce is a given, so each time capsule provides some understanding as to where the couple went wrong.

In the first segment, the couple leaves the courtroom, checks into a motel, and starts a farewell fuck. She changes her mind, and he anally rapes her. Pretty obvious he is not the caring, gentle lover type. The next episode takes place at a dinner party, where he demonstrates that he cares much more for his son than his wife. Next we see the birth of the son, where the husband takes a powder. Episode 4 shows their wedding night, where he passes out with her wanting sex, causing her to screw a stranger out of frustration. Finally, the last segment shows how they met. He is with his current girlfriend on vacation in Sardinia. He ditches his current girlfriend to swim off into the sunset with his future wife.

One could probably summarize the same plot and make her seem more responsible for the failure of the marriage.

I personally found it a very watchable film dealing in a realistic way with a real life subject.

The Critics Vote ...

  • James Berardinelli 3/4

  • British consensus out of four stars: two and a half stars. Mail 6/10, Telegraph 8/10, Independent 6/10, Guardian 10/10, Times 8/10, Express 4/10, FT 4/10, BBC 3/5.

The People Vote ...

  • It was moderately successful in France, selling about 500,000 tickets, but could generate no enthusiasm internationally. It grossed about a hundred thousand dollars in the USA, maxing out on three screens.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C+. Quiet, thoughtful, deceptively affecting film, but not made for the mass audience.

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