Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Girl Cut in Two

directed by Claude Chabrol
written by Claude Chabrol and Cecile Maistre
starring Ludivine Sangnier, Benoît Magimel, François Berléand

A Girl Cut in Two was pretty much just what I needed. It's deliciously campy and it knows it too. It's a sexual thriller, but it's more than that. Ludivine Sangnier plays a woman named Gabrielle Deneige who, despite what the trailers and the title will tell you, is not cut in two. Well, not until the end at least, and that's only in the literal sense, and even then not in the literal sense...I digress. She is an adult, she drives the narrative forward and she's an interesting female character who (shudder! gasp!) dares to express sexual want and desire. But alas, she's not torn between two men. She is not cut in two. For she loves one of them. And it is clear which one she loves. And everything she does, including her interaction with and even her marriage to the other man, is so that she can have the first one. Gabrielle meets Charles St. Denis (Berléand) at her mother's bookstore when he's doing a book-signing. He's a famous author. And several decades her senior. She wants him and is willing to overlook the fact that he's married, selfish, and unwilling to leave his wife under any circumstances. When Paul Gaudens (Magimel), a younger man, technically more age appropriate, meets Gabrielle at the same book-signing, he leads her to believe that he too wants her unconditionally. Despite the fact that something about him turns her off. And he leads her to believe that his love (lust?) is so pure that he is willing to overlook the fact that she's hopelessly and clearly obsessed with Charles St. Denis. Except he's not... This is not going to end well.

I can't recall a movie I've seen this year that was so The eroticism is delightfully over-the-top, even for a film of this genre. The dialogue is biting and satirical. It plays almost like a French version of Match Point, except not nearly as heavy and self-important (not to take anything away from Match Point, which was a good film in its own right).
Ludivine Sangnier (Swimming Pool) gives one of the best female performances of the year. She knows this character from head-to-toe, and she navigates a lot of emotional terrain here. Sangnier's Gabrielle is a television personality who reads the weather on the news. You can see that Sangnier gets it. The switch that these people make from their on-air to off-air persona. How there's an inherent sadness to that fakeness. She won't be nominated for best actress, but she very well should be.

Grade: B+

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