Early this past sunny and brisk Sunday morning I headed over to the Imperial Cinema to complete my Ludivine Sagnier weekend at the Cinemania Film Festival. I had previously seen her as the eccentric but lovable character of Lily in Lily Sometimes and her second film of the weekend was director Alain Corneau's last film, Love Crime.
As Miss Sagnier, who was at all of her screenings this weekend, said herself the two films could not be more different. As warm as Lily Sometimes is is as cold as Love Crime is. The film evolves in the corporate world, but is different in that it is told from a female perspective.
Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas – Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Other Boleyn Girl) is a powerful executive at an international agricultural firm. She is intelligent, successful, respected, and cutthroat. Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier – Swimming Pool, 8 Women) is a younger woman who works hand in hand with Christine. The older, more successful woman has taken Isabelle under her wing and become a mentor to her. Isabelle pays her back by being extremely devoted and working very hard.
Isabelle doesn't mind the long hours and little praise, but when Christine starts taking the credit for work Isabelle has done she starts to get irked. The irritation level is decreased momentarily when Christine sends her off to Cairo on a high profile assignment. Isabelle is very successful there and even sleeps with the company's lawyer and also one of Christine's many lovers, Philippe (Patrick Mille – Vampire Party, Le Valet). She returns to Paris on a high.
The air is quickly let out of her balloon when Isabelle realizes that she is once again being used. Isabelle makes the mistake of confronting Christine and this is when her troubles really begin. Christine makes it her life's goal to publicly humiliate Isabelle, threaten her and break up her relationship with Philippe.
What happens next is the perfect murder and more twists and ingenious turns that you can shake a stick at. Keep your thinking caps on and your eyes and ears open.
Scott Thomas is once again divine as the icy Christine. She dominates every scene she is in. Sometimes she is so good you forget that there are other people in the film with her. When her character is killed it is then Sagnier's time to shine. She transforms her character from a mousy and mildly obsessive compulsive girl to a devious and incredibly intelligent woman. Shifting gears faster than a Ferrari can, Sagnier is calm and still one moment then frenetic and manic the next. It is another monster performance from this talented young actress. The two actresses do jealousy and ruthless ambition very well. And boy, is it fun to watch!
Alain Corneau (Fort Saganne, Tous les Matins du Monde) keeps things tense and mysterious throughout. He also moves things along quickly with not one ounce of fat in the picture. He keeps only the essentials which includes so many twists and turns it will have your head spinning. Once you think that you've got things or the characters figured out they change. Interestingly the male characters are all one dimensional (sexual partners or assistants) and that has the effect of turning the spotlight even more on the two women.
The film is completely engaging and will keep you occasionally chuckling and continuously loving it to the very end. It is wonderfully mysterious and different from your typical mystery/crime film. You'll be wondering how rather than who thoughout.