Water Drops on Burning Rocks

"Very Good"

Water Drops on Burning Rocks Review


Four people are in a room dancing, Charlie's Angels style, fingers pointed like shooting guns and booties shaking. Heads bob up and down in time with the pop and fizz funk of the German record playing in the background.

Styled like a music video, we cut back and forth between all four of them swinging in sync with the rhythm and performing their individual motions with campy grandeur. After three or four minutes of this highly amusing, sexually charged romp and stomp in the living room, the middle aged businessman (obviously the leader of the group) abruptly turns off the record. "All right, that's enough. Everybody to the bedroom!" The women rush offscreen, giggling and squealing.

That's what was used as a trailer for Francois Ozon's latest sexual comedy-thriller. The young Frenchman who directed the superb short film See the Sea and the puerile "shock-o-rama" feature Sitcom is back with another foray of men and women who push each other's buttons. Ozon lends his slightly warped comic perspective to a screenplay adapted from a theater piece by young, bitter Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Thank goodness Fassbinder never made this movie, since it is filled with pretentious dialogue which, if taken too seriously, would have been just painful. Fassbinder's earliest films are all bleak musings on how terrible the world is. "My soul is filled with such emptiness the likes of which you have never seen before, and I cannot ever be happy because my soul is empty, et cetera, et cetera." Humorless misanthropic slogans and self-loathing for ninety minutes do not make for an enjoying viewing experience. (He got better with age.)

However, once Fassbinder's script was pared down by Ozon, some of the insightful bickering by a couple trapped in a living situation which has made them articulate and bitter comes to the forefront. This was the German auteur's greatest skill, the ability to paint characters who wallow in misery and inflict pain on those they hold closest to their hearts. Suddenly, every line of dialogue is a mini-apocalypse, such as, "Why do you wear shoes around the apartment? You're so nosy! I told you to wear slippers!"

Older Fassbinder clone Leo (sleek Bernard Giraudeau, very fine) is the middle aged man who picks up straight, younger Fassbinder clone Franz (apple cheeked Malik Zidi) one night and gloriously seduces him. First, they drink. Leo turns on the charm, using flattery and subtle manipulations to get Franz to confess to having an interest in homosexual forays. Before long, they're indulging in Franz's fantasy of a stranger coming to the bed wearing an overcoat. It's sexy, diabolical and funny, all at once.

While the dialogue and set-up feel stagy (all interior locations and talky battles of will) Ozon manages to deftly use bright and gaudy '70s colors in each room and retro costumes to add visual splendor to each scene. The seduction scene and forthcoming verbal sparring tends to go on and on for long stretches into the realm of tedium, the performances are so compelling and the dialogue so spry and game that you somehow manage to stick with Water Drops on Burning Rocks.

After the seduction, we see them six months later in the midst of a live-in relationship gone to hell. Franz is now Leo's "housewife", cooking and cleaning and hanging up his coat for him, lighting his cigarette and scrubbing the floorboards. Leo remains dissatisfied with everything Franz does, and when it reaches the inevitable point where Franz wants to pack his bags and go, Leo does a bad job of pretending that it's their very arguments which keep him happy.

Ozon's casting in his films remains masterful, arousing genuine pathos in characters who are either dumb or unsympathetic. While his plots fare better in the short form (a little goes a long way in See the Sea) and he recycles visual and story ideas to pad out his ninety minute movie, he does manage to throw in enough stuff (and two new characters midway through) to keep it moving. Besides, you always have that nifty dance number to look forward to.

Sex, cruelty, fetishism - it may amount to a mere sick confection of a movie, one which is ultimately insignificant and lightweight, but it's compulsively watchable if you're game.

Aka Gouttes d'eau sur pierres brûlantes.

Liar, liar, rocks on fire.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 82 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 15th March 2000

Distributed by: Zeitgeist Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Léopold, as Franz, as Anna, as Véra

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.