Synopsis: Within the sterile offices of a powerful multinational corporation, two women come to a face-off: Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier, Swimming Pool) is a young executive under the orders of Christine (Academy Award Nominee Kristin Scott Thomas, I’ve Loved You So Long, The English Patient), a powerful woman she absolutely idolizes. Confident of her control over Isabelle, Christine leads her into a confusing, perverse game of seduction and domination. A dangerous game that goes too far – to the point of no return. The final film from master of French cinema Alain Corneau, Love Crime is a vicious suspense tale featuring two of the hottest international stars locked in a twisted battle of wills.
Crime d’amour 7.5
eyelights: Isabelle’s mysterious scheme. its leads’ performances. its dynamic tension.
eyesores: its awkward and unlikely third act.
“She was capable of killing, but not for love.”
‘Crime d’amour’ is the final film by Alain Corneau, the genius behind ‘Tous les matins du monde‘. Released post-humously, the 2010 motion picture stars Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier as business associates who begin as friends and quickly turn into rivals.
Frankly, it’s not a picture that I was especially interested in – partly because a thriller involving Sagnier -to me- didn’t bode well. But when I found out that Brian De Palma remade the film in 2013, I started to think that perhaps there might be more to it than I’d anticipated.
Well, I both right and wrong.
Firstly, the picture was much more enjoyable than I’d imagined; since I knew nothing about it going in, it had many surprises in store for me. Secondly, the performances were very strong; though Kristin Scott Thomas is always superb, I’d totally underestimated Sagnier.
In fact, she is so good in the first parts of the picture that you believe in the fragility of her character, despite the fact that she’s smart and confident; when she begins to crack under pressure we buy it wholesale. By the time she loses it completely we harbour no doubt.
Mind you, having said this, the picture wasn’t nearly as fresh or clever as it wanted to be: big business sociopaths are nothing new (‘Wall Street‘ anyone?) and both Christine (Scott Thomas) and Isabelle (Sagnier)’s ploys were either too transparent or unlikely.
Still, I was thoroughly captivated with Isabelle’s reprisals after Christine publicly humiliated her, thereby destroying her professional reputation. Though it was a little bit absurd, Corneau kept his cards close to his chest the whole time, preventing us from knowing the truth.
I spent the whole time trying to figure out: Did she or didn’t she?
Has she actually lost her mind?
Sadly, the truth isn’t quite satisfying, as there are tons of details that don’t make any sense (ex: why would she hide the knife in the shed if it had “just been bought and broken”?). It seems to me that any police inspector worth his/her salt could notice inconsistencies.
But not so here.
The whole third act is awkward and the ending is patently ridiculous: despite everything that’s happened, Isabelle can just return to work without any consequences, can even climb up the ladder? It was really just as easy as that for her to manipulate the outcome?
By then, Sagnier turned in a performance that I’d dreaded at the onset: she dolled herself up and walked like a cartoon, like a broken version of Jessica Rabbit. I suppose it was meant to prove that she’d risen from the ashes like a phoenix, but it looked stupid to me.
All the twists and turns were unlikely individually but, collectively, they turned the whole thing into a farce. Throw in some predictability (ex: Daniel having the pills analyzed) and there is simply no way that this story would hold up in real life; it’s too convenient.
Still, ‘Crime d’amour’ is breezy enough that it’s hard to hold Corneau’s transgressions against him; there’s no time to mull over the details. His swan song is hardly a masterpiece, but it’s an entertaining potboiler that will no doubt satisfy less discerning audiences.
And that’s no crime.
Date of viewing: April 25, 2017