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‘Double Lover’ is a Taboo Busting Wild Ride

In real life therapy never includes sex as it does in this racy psychological thriller.

Veteran actor Jacqueline Bisset in a juicy supporting role is vibrant as ever.  Chloé, (played by Chanel model Marine Vacth) is an extremely vulnerable young woman who falls in love with her therapist Paul (Jérémie Renier).

Talk therapy NEVER includes sex. Sex with a client/patient, their partners or family members is called a ‘dual relationship’ which is a serious ethical violation and actual crime in the United States. Why? A ‘normal’ part of a course of treatment may be to idealize your therapist and perhaps even ‘fall in love’ with him or her.

Clinically speaking, via training and experience, a qualified therapist should know the underlying value and purpose of this rule. Legally, the therapist risks being fined, jailed and/or can lose their license to practice as a result of breaching this bright line boundary. Rather than taking advantage of the patient in the worst re-traumatizing way. By holding the line a healthier way of relating emerges and rather than a damaging connection, healing occurs when the ‘erotic transference’ is worked through to uncover what erotic feelings and impulses are all about at a deeper level.

Now that this is clear you can sit back and ‘enjoy’ this edgy thriller, horrific drama or is it a twisted romance? Whatever category applies there are any number of cringe-worthy moments that delivers on this original and effecting a French adaptation of a Joyce Carol Oates novel, written and directed François Ozon starring Marine Vacth and Jérémie Renier with Jacqueline Bisset, in a wonderful cameo, Myriam Boyer, Dominique Raymond.

Watch the DOUBLE LOVER trailer here if you dare. It opened on Valentine’s Day:

Chloé, (Marine Vacth) and Paul (Jérémie Renier,) fall hard for each other soon after Chloe starts therapy with Paul to reveal the embodiment of her painful belly aches. The roots of her mysterious stomach ailments manifest in her ‘second brain.’

Several months into treatment and after much relief of the patient’s symptoms, the couple moves in together. On the surface they seem to be a deliriously happy and well matched pair.  While unpacking Chloé does some innocent snooping and discovers that her lover is chock full of unprocessed material of his own including the true nature of his identity which Chloe prompts him to reveal numerous times which he denies and fails to disclose. 

 The healed-wounded healer, full of massive blind spots, it is Paul who should have at least talked to another professional about his decision to break a hallowed code of honor and get personal with his patient before acting on the fateful decision. Bottom line it is Paul’s responsibility as the professional to know and do better.  Because of Paul’s own lack of capacity and self awareness he is drawn into muddy waters he needs to clear up. 

 In uncovering Paul’s secrets Chloe unearths more of her own traumatic history surrounding her family of origin. Once again we are reminded that lovers do not merely collide. We choose each other to work out sometimes hidden levels of meaning.  The therapist not the patient  is ultimately the responsible party for violating the sacred trust imparted to him by his patient/client by breaking the #1 rule that psychotherapy in real life never includes sex.

Reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby, Vacth reminds me of a dark haired young Mia Farrow in this edgy and visually striking, often outrageous film that and brims with a number of cinematic references. DOUBLE LOVER is truly a guilty pleasure that kept this audience member guessing, literally jumping out of my seat at times, gasping and crying out with surprise.

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