Love Crime

The Devil Wears Prada meets Diabolique as re-imagined by Claude Chabrol—with a musical score by saxophone legend Pharoah Sanders? Well, not exactly. Except, oddly enough, for the bit about Pharoah Sanders. Kristin Scott Thomas plays Christine, a cutthroat agribusiness exec who shamelessly takes the credit for the savvy money-making ideas devised by her seemingly innocuous gal Friday, Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier). Although a certain sexual tension grows palpable between the two women, it’s actualized by Philippe (Patrick Mille), Christine’s ostensible boyfriend, whom she is more than willing to share with Isabelle. (Isabelle, as we get to know her better and her character blossoms, can go from cold fish to raging hormones in a split second.) 

As the underling takes on more responsibility, and forges conspiratorial alliances with her co-workers, jealousy and violence ensue. One climax involves a sophisticatedly twisted overwrought act à la Clouzot, in which a fiendish crime occurs. Bonus points: the catfight chemistry between Scott Thomas and Sagnier is delightful.

The elaborate plot progresses (under the breezily assured direction of the late Alain Corneau, who passed away in 2010 at age 67) as the film’s second half settles into a  police procedural. While it makes for an effective and solid thriller, Love Crime brings nothing terribly new to the genre. Nevertheless, those in need of narrative sustenance of the “crime” variety will be temporarily sated.

© 2011 by The Film Society of Lincoln Center