Saturday, September 14, 2013

Love Crime

Directed by Alain Corneau and written by Corneau and Natalie Carter, Crime d’amour (Love Crime) is the story of two women working at a multi-national corporation who embark into a sick game of one-upmanship as it gets more humiliating and darker. The film is an exploration into the world of business and how two women try to outdo one another in order to get to the top. Starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier. Crime d’amour is a thrilling yet engaging film from Alain Corneau.

The film is a look into the world of multi-national corporations where a top executive and her protégé do whatever to make it to the top. Yet, the young woman known as Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier) finds herself not only doing the work of her boss Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas) where Isabelle gets no credit for her hard work. Christine would then further the humiliation by playing nasty pranks on her that would involve moments of blackmail as Isabelle would try to counter that with a few deals of her own. Eventually, things would get out of control under Christine’s world forcing Isabelle to take more drastic actions that would go into various extremes. It’s a film that plays into that cruel and unforgiving world of corporate mud-slinging where those like to humiliate colleagues emotionally and mentally. Even as it would force one woman to do things that is unexpected.

The film’s screenplay has a unique structure where the first act is about Christine’s cruel persona and how she treats Isabelle though there’s time where Christine tries to help Isabelle be a better person. Even when it comes to charming other executives and such to make a deal which Isabelle does succeed at but at her own terms. Adding to this unique relationship between the two women is the fact that both are sharing the same man in a lawyer named Philippe (Patrick Mille) who finds himself in trouble with Christine over some secret finances where he breaks off his relationship with Isabelle. This would lead into this second act of Isabelle not only falling apart emotionally and mentally but also try to see how she can try to beat Christine in this twisted game. It would go into this very strange third act where it is about actions but also what really happened as police investigators get involved and such.

Alain Corneau’s direction is quite engaging for not just some of the compositions that he creates but also in the way he presents the suspense and drama that is played out. Notably as Corneau would often put both Christine and Isabelle in the same frame sometimes at the edge of the frame or close together to display this sense of power struggle between the two women. There’s also moments where there is this mix of suspense and drama that includes this scene where Christine holds a party and shows a video of other colleagues in humiliating moments based on video footage as well as that moment of Isabelle feeling humiliated by one of Christine’s nasty pranks. It would then turn the film into a thriller where it would see what Christine would do as Corneau would create ideas of what might’ve happened or what really happened to create this ambiguity. While it’s shot largely in Paris, it plays into this very chaotic world of corporate businesses and mud-slinging as well as some scenes set in suburbs to showcase the different world that Christine and Isabelle live in. Overall, Corneau creates a fascinating yet intriguing film about ambition, greed, and deception.

Cinematographer Yves Angelo does excellent work with the cinematography from the bright yet cold look of the corporate environment the characters live in to some of the more stylish lights for some of the film‘s nighttime interior and exterior scenes as well as some black-and-white shots for the ideas of what might‘ve happened. Editor Thierry Derocles does amazing work with the editing in not just building up the suspense but also play into some of the drama with a few rhythmic cuts and montages to see how some of the events might‘ve happened. Production designer Katia Wyszkop and set decorator Gerard Marcireau do brilliant work with the look of the offices and the homes of Christine and Isabelle.

Costume designer Khadija Zeggai does wonderful work with the costumes from the more posh clothes that Christine wears to the more upper-middle class yet youthful look of Isabelle. The sound work of Jean-Paul Mugel is terrific for its low-key atmosphere as well as play into a few moments in some of the social events the characters go to. The film’s music by Pharoah Sanders is fantastic as it doesn’t appear quite often except in some key moments where it has this intoxicating mix of orchestral music mixed in with some Japanese string music to play up the suspense and drama.

The casting by Gerard Moulevrier is superb as it features some noteworthy small performances from Marie Guillard as Isabelle’s sister Claudine, Guillaume Marquet as Isabelle’s loyal assistant Daniel, Gerald Laroche as the lead police investigator Gerard, and Patrick Mille as Philippe who is in the middle of this love triangle where he would do things that would cause trouble. Kristin Scott Thomas is phenomenal as Christine as she plays the role of conniving bitch to the fullest while having a sense of dark charm to her role as she’s very cunning as well as manipulative as it’s definitely one of her finest performances. Ludivine Sagnier is remarkable as Isabelle as a young woman who aspires to do good and even impress Christine only to be driven into madness as she tries to out-do Christine where Sagnier brings a lot of anguish and chilling body language to play a woman who is seemingly losing her mind.

Crime d’amour is a sensational film from the late Alain Corneau that features riveting performances from Ludivine Sagnier and Kristin Scott Thomas. It’s an exciting film that refuses to play nice while also embracing its nastiness as it explores the world of greed, ambition, and manipulation to some great extremes. In the end, Crime d’amour is an exhilarating film from Alain Corneau.

Related: Passion (2012 film)

© thevoid99 2013

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