François Ozon is unique. He is considered one of France’s most important filmmakers. His work is “characterized by aesthetic beauty, sharp satirical humor, and a free-wheeling view of human sexuality”. While some filmmakers have been pressured to be audience-pleasing, Ozon continues to ride his own wave of authority, integrity, and creativity.

Time to Leave (2005)

Rating: 2 out of 5.
François Ozon's Time to Leave star Melville Poupaud.
Time to Leave star Melville Poupaud in the gay bar scene.

What About? Romain (Melville Poupaud) is a successful gay fashion photographer. He has everything – a handsome boyfriend, a well-to-do- family, and a blossoming career. From out of nowhere his Doctor called and tell him the bad news. He has a tumor and that’s the reason why he faints at work, sometimes. It has metastasized and he only has a few months to live.

And so? Acclaimed French actor Melville Poupaud plays Romain with a certain detachment, yet his characterization is full of humanity and of frailty. Dir. François Ozon did not make Time to Leave sympathetic – where the family could have been shown as being supportive. Instead, it depicts the dying man who is arrogant and inconsiderate. The question is posed: Can death change a person and make him a monster? [Trailer]

Water Drops of Burning Rocks (2000)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

What About? A 50-something shrewd businessman picks up a carrot-top 19-year-old kid who eventually lives in his apartment. They had plenty of sex, even acting out characters to make it spicier. After a few weeks, the older guy became argumentative…

And so? Water Drops of Burning Rocks stars Malik Zidi, one of France’s most sensual leading actors who has an impressive resume, including some gay roles that fit him perfectly. In this film, he plays the submissive boy who gets dominated by the owner of the apartment he decided to live in. Very provocative, it essays the volatile relationship of an older guy and a young boy and their dynamics.

A Summer Dress (1996)

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Luc (Frédéric Mangenot) rides his bike wearing a summer dress!

What About? Luc (Frédéric Mangenot) and Sébastien (Sébastien Charles) are young lovers. Due to boredom and familiarity, they became argumentative and prone to anger. Luc decided to go skinny dipping at a nearby beach. He meets a nice young woman and starts a conversation with her. When he’s about to leave, his clothes are nowhere to be found. The young woman lends her dress for Luc to wear.

And so? A Summer Dress is both funny and erotic. It shows a real-life situation between a boy x boy relationship and it shatters the ongoing craze for a dreamy, sweet, no-confrontational, happily ever after BL series. Sometimes, it can be refreshing to watch something totally unconventional, yet entertaining and comedic too! I’ve first seen this François Ozon’s short about 15 years ago, and I still love it.

Criminal Lovers (1999)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

What About? A hunter takes a young woman (Natacha Régnier) and her boyfriend (Jérémie Renier) hostage as they bury a classmate they murdered.

And so? Criminal Lovers is a horror thriller with the intention to shock and seduce. The boyfriend is forced to have sex with the hunter (all slimy and dastardly) in order to remain alive. Plenty of sex and action, not for the faint of heart or righteous about almost everything. Dir. Ozon challenges the conventional here. This is one of French-Belgian actor Jérémie Renier’s many gay roles and considering his stature as an actor, proves he deserves the adulation from moviegoers across Europe.

Summer of 85 (2020)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What About? What started out as a romantic and loving relationship turned ugly and nasty for two appealing French boys, Alexis (Félix Lefebvre) and David (Benjamin Voisin).

And so? This film will have you guessing what truly transpired in the end. Dir. François Ozon complained about the difficulty and complexity of shooting the film because it requires a lot of energy and creative thoughts. Yet, this more recent work from the French Auteur is hard to forget and is literally a gay film gem.

François Ozon: The Final Word

Dir. Ozon was asked by the British News portal The Guardian, about the Summer 85 casting:

I was looking for chemistry – I wanted people to want to see them together. I had a lot of problems on my earlier films, with actors saying: “I can’t play a gay role.” This time I said: “Do you have any problems kissing a boy?”, and they said no. Young people now have a great fluidity, they don’t have the inhibitions that older actors did.

The Guardian interviews dir. Ozon

While this list is exclusive to gay movies, dir. Ozon has made other film genres with much acclaim. This list is a representative sample of his directorial style and says a lot about his creative style and talent.

We highly recommend another filmmaker’s profile from South Korea: Lee Song Hee-Il.