Just a few years back director Francois Ozon was one of France's enfants terribles, his films like "Sitcom" (1998) or "Criminal Lovers" (1999) often mentioned in the same breath as those of Gaspar Noe or Catherine Breillat. These days, though, Ozon is better known for his sensitive, subtly perceptive portrayals of women, in particular his two films with Charlotte Rampling, "Sous le sable" and "Swimming Pool."

In an interview atop the Park Hyatt Tokyo, Ozon is the first to admit that he was much angrier back then, but is quick to add "my films now are just as intense, emotionally. The difference is just a matter of tone."

I ask him if he finds it ironic that "Criminal Lovers," which showed its two lead characters casually murdering a friend, was decried by the critics as "amoral," while "Swimming Pool," a similarly plotted film, is praised to high heaven. Ozon says with a smile, "With 'Criminal Lovers,' the killing was too graphic. They viewed me as some kind of criminal as a result, like I approved of these murders I showed. Superficially, yes, I'm also showing a murder in 'Swimming Pool,' but the point of view is quite different; it's more of a symbol, just an opportunity to bring these two women together."