Chloé (Marine Vacth), a former model suffering from stress-induced stomach pains, sees a psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Meyer (Jérémie Renier), and falls in love with him. They move together, but there's more to him than meets the eye when she discovers that he has an identical twin brother, Dr. Louis Delord (Jérémie Renier), who just so happens to be a psychiatrist as well. She pays Dr. Delord a visit at his office and they end up having a sexually-charged relationship. A love triangle between her and the twin brother ensues.
The screenplay by François Ozon, based on Joyce Carol Oates' novel, has an intriguing concept, but it's poorly executed after a suspenseful first act. You know from the get-go that Chloé isn't a particularly reliable protagonist because of her unstable mental state, so once she discovers Dr. Meyer's dark secrets and meets Dr. Delord, it's very hard to resist to question whether or not what she's experiencing is real or just part of her imagination. As the plot becomes increasingly complex, its pretentiousness and implausibility also increases. Without buying anything that happens to the characters or what they say, your emotional investment in their lives quickly wanes as does the suspense.
Although it's refreshing to see an erotic thriller like the ones that were popular in the 80's and 90's, Double Lover ultimately fails to be provocative, smart, moving or gripping. Ozon seems to enjoy playing mind games with the audience, but it's not a fun or clever mindfuck. Without revealing any spoilers, the third act falls apart completely with a preposterous twist that seems like it belongs in an M. Night Shyamalan film. Yes, it's a bold ending, but, much like the ending of the overrated Basic Instinct, it makes very little sense in hindsight and leaves you feeling disappointed and cheated.
On a positive note, Double Lover does offer stylish cinematography, lighting and set designs that provide some eye candy. The nods to Polanski and Cronenberg are far from subtle. Anyone who's even remotely familiar with their films will catch the references or at least feel a sensation of deja vu. If you're looking for a psychological thriller that's more intelligent and consistently gripping, see the satisfying mindfuck The Double Hour or the mesmerizing and haunting Kieslowski film, The Double Life of Veronique.