Genre: Thriller/Suspense, Drama, Foreign
Opens locally on Friday, October 28th, 2011 (check for showtimes)
Run Time: 1 hour 46 minutes, Not Rated
Starring Ludivine Sagnier, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patrick Mille
Directed by Alain Corneau (Fear and Trembling, Some Kind of Blue)
There have been many movies featuring a villain who is plotting “the perfect crime,” as is the case in “Love Crime” (Crime d’amour.) This French import features the likes of a well-known actress to American audiences, that of Academy Award-nominated Kristen Scott Thomas (The English Patient.) But like finding a buried treasure, you will also be introduced to Ludivine Sagnier, a talented French actress who gets star treatment here, delivering a very memorable performance as Isabelle, the film’s central character.
Isabelle is an assistant working for Christine (Kristen Scott Thomas), a very shrewd and powerful executive. Isabelle has built a reputation as an incredibly intelligent worker, fiercely loyal to Christine. Christine is your stereotypical “evil” CEO…her fun comes in toying with the lives of others. She also takes credit for much of Isabelle’s hard work.
So when a horrible tragedy occurs, it would appear that Isabelle is to blame. In fact, the crime is almost too obvious. Whereas the first half of the film establishes the main characters and the relationship between Isabelle and Christine, the 2nd half works as a clever whodunit…an elongated episode of CSI: France.
The premise is interesting enough, but the movie falls short in the stiff dialogue and some moments of over-the-top drama. Perhaps much of the back-and-forth was lost in translation (the film is in French with English subtitles,) but the disjointed halves of the movie don’t really seem to fit. The crime itself, if you think about it, isn’t justified at all…the result doesn’t warrant the action. And if I seem vague, it’s because these plot twists and turns are the film’s major draw…no need to reveal them here.
The lasting impression of “Love Crime” is the “who is that girl?” reaction to Ludivine Sagnier. She shows a tremendous range of emotion and has a vibe and look that reminded me of a French Chloe Sevigny (Brown Bunny, HBO’s “Big Love.”) Given better material, Ludivine would have a great chance of establishing herself in Hollywood.
So despite the clever unfolding of the “perfect crime” second-half, the first-half doesn’t quite do enough to make the stakes all that high, or to make it believable that the characters do what they end up doing. Still, it is a movie worth seeking out, a “perfect crime” movie that is unfortunately far from perfect.