“On fait un bon équipe”
Alain Corneau’s Love Crime may be more familiar to English-speaking audiences as the Brian De Palma remake Passion starring Rachel McAdam and Noomi Rapace but given that l’original features Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier locked in a titanic battle of wills, on a performance level it probably wins out. That’s not to say though that it isn’t a problematic film, it may open as an intriguing psychological drama but it closes as something of a schlocky thriller.
Scott Thomas plays Christine, a ruthless executive in the French branch of a multinational corporation who will do anything to get the New York promotion she craves, including stealing the ideas of her quietly competent junior Isabelle, Sagnier in impressively muted form. Christine revels in the emotional, even sexual manipulation of her colleague but unaware of the depth of Isabelle’s ambition, she unleashes something traumatic.
Up until that point, the film is tightly wound and impressively vicious as as both women are limited by the glass ceiling in this boardroom with only room for one to potentially squeeze through the narrowest of gaps, they turn on each other instead. Scott Thomas wields a velvet fist perfectly, almost making us believe there is empathy behind the evisceration and the way in which Sagnier uncoils her true nature is equally striking.
But the way in which revenge is struck is puzzling, almost antithetical to what we know of Isabelle’s nature and though there is some pleasure in the way in which the howdunnit is revealed, the loss of tension that comes midway through isn’t replaced with anything near as effective. Love Crime is efficient as a whole but when the first half has been as superlative as it is here, it is hard not to be disappointed.