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Love Crime – Review
UKScreen Rating:

Love Crime – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas) runs the Paris office of an American food company and keeps getting praise for her impressive ideas – most of which have been appropriated from her deputy Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier).

Isabelle idolises Christine, so she lets her get away with rather more than she should, against the advice of her assistant Daniel (Guillaume Marquet).

But when Christine takes a step too far, Daniel manages to persuade her to conclude a new project without telling Christine about it. It goes so well that the American bosses fly in specially to meet her and Christine’s promotion to the New York office gets put on hold.

Christine does not like being undermined and sets out to teach Isabelle a lesson, to put her back in her place. But this time, Isabelle has no intention of letting Christine get away with her workplace bullying.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

Sex, love, lust, intrigue, betrayal, money – this should be a powerful thriller, but while it is a slick production, on so many levels, it fails to convince.

The business-talk sounds like it’s been written by someone who’s extrapolated how to run a multi-national company from watching a couple of episodes of Dragon’s Den.

Ludivine Sagnier’s flip from doting deputy to an unhinged, calculated “love-criminal” is as mellifluous as cross-Channel ferry in a storm.

During the “love” part of the film, she she clearly comes under so much strain that she’s bound to break, but so much of what happens when she does is so obviously signposted as to render the second “crime” part of the film both incoherent yet clumsily formulaic and predictable.

Is she going to pay for her crime? Well, she’s been arrested – but hang on, there’s still another three quarters of an hour of the film left. Can she find a motive to get the finger pointing at anyone else? A jilted lover (Patrick Mille) who’s in trouble with Christine, perhaps? But can someone who appears to be so mentally unstable really carry out an intricate crime that frames an innocent man? Too much about the unfolding of her plot just doesn’t feel right.

Kristin Scott Thomas as Christine is the best thing about the film. She’s as smarmy as she is charming and her drive to succeed would be admirable to anyone aiming to win The Apprentice at any cost. It’s easy to see why anyone who’s similarly ambitious might be torn between an uncompromising respect for the boss and coveting the success for herself. One of the big problems with the film is that despite her ruthlessness, Christine comes across as more sympathetic than Isabelle, which makes it very hard to root for the underdog.

Most of the other characters are so thinly drawn as to be laughable.

This two year old French psychological thriller has been released in English speaking territories just in time to boost the profile of its English language remake, Brian de Palma’s retitled Passion, which took a bow at September’s Venice and Toronto Film Festivals. Previews suggest that this could be one of the few cases of the English-language remake improving on its European antecedent, written and directed by Alain Corneau, who died just two weeks after Love Crime came out in his native France. Best known internationally for Tous les Matins du Monde, this was perhaps not the most dignified way for him to bow out.

But with the same producer giving him the screenplay credit on the remake, although he didn’t manage to pull it off himself, perhaps there can still be some life in the auteur yet.

 

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