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  Love Crime Dodgy Deals
Year: 2010
Director: Alain Corneau
Stars: Ludivine Sagnier, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patrick Mille, Guillaume Marquet, Gérard Laroche, Julien Rochefort, Olivier Rabourdan, Marie Guillard, Mike Powers, Matthew Gonder, Jean-Pierre Leclerc, Stéphane Roquet, Frederic Venant, Stéphane Brel
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Isabelle Guérin (Ludivine Sagnier) looks up to her boss Christine Rivière (Kristin Scott Thomas) because the older woman has proven herself a role model, taking no nonsense from anyone and trailblazing for Isabelle in the field of businesswomen. Tonight she is over at her home, applying the finishing touches to a transaction which will do very well for them both, but Isabelle is slightly discomfitted by Christine's overfriendliness, though that doesn't prevent her accepting the scarf she admired as a gift. Just as things might be getting uncomfortable, the boss's husband Philippe (Patrick Mille) returns and it goes no further - but is Christine taking advantage?

Director Alain Corneau died less than two weeks after Love Crime, originally Crime d'amour, was released in his native France, therefore it was his final work and since he was well-thought of there were plenty of audiences well-disposed towards it. In English-speaking territories, on the other hand, it wasn't as well known, so if anything it would be the remake two years later from thriller expert Brian De Palma renamed Passion which they would be familiar with, assuming they had heard of it at all now that the American filmmaker's star was decidedly on the wane at this stage in his career, unfortunate as that was. If you watched the source, you would find something a lot less stylish.

Indeed, considering Love Crime strongly resembled eighties hit Working Girl if Melanie Griffith had resorted to violence to gain the upper hand, it was surprising how weirdly sterile and bloodless Corneau's work was here. If that restraint was a style in itself, so be it, but there was a distinct lack of, well, passion to the way events played out, as if this was an exercise in mental stimulation as it would have been if the two lead characters were playing a game of workplace chess. Initially, Isabelle sees nothing but opportunities opening up for her, but that's before she realises Christine is taking credit for all her hard work, reasoning to the shocked young woman that it was a team effort and Isabelle would do the same in her position, though we can tell it's the first time she's considered it.

This does trigger a fresh sense of daring in Isabelle, and before long she is bedding Philippe behind Christine's back, or at least that's what she thinks, underestimating the situation in her naivety. However, the husband has a secret of his own, he has been committing fraud against the company (he works for the same one the ladies do), and now his wife is aware of it she has him in a vice-like grip. The mistress isn't immune to that either as Christine invents an e-mail written on her computer so it has Isabelle's address on it to make it look as if she has a serious grudge against the boss, which she does, but she was more hurt and confused than scheming. Alas, the pressure starts to get to her and soon she is heading straight into a breakdown.

Or is she? Here's where Corneau and his co-writer Natalie Carter put their fiendishly concocted plan into effect for their heroine, or should we say anti-heroine, because Isabelle is not all she seems and has a rather drastic solution to her problems after one humiliation too many from Christine. After all, those horizons which seemed to be stretching ahead of her are now noticeably reducing in expanse, so if she wants to get to the top she's going to have to implement subterfuge. The drawback with that is it begins to grow farfetched around this point, as nothing before the halfway stage where the big left turn in the plot is has indicated Isabelle could be capable of such a terrible act, even if she was at the end of her tether, and to carry it out with that degree of military precision was very difficult to credit. That said, it was amusing to watch the various components of the plan slot together in spite of you not really buying it outside of the world Corneau crafted. Still, there were diversions, not least watching Sagnier and Thomas spark off one another. Music by Pharoah Sanders.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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