Last pic­ture nou­vea

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

A lit­tle less than a decade ago, Alain Corneau, who sadly died in 2010, di­rected a very as­tute film about women in the work­place en­ti­tled Fear and Trem­bling. Corneau’s last pic­ture, in which two fe­male ex­ec­u­tives fall out apoc­a­lyp­ti­cally, prom­ises fur­ther in­sights on the pol­i­tics of pro­fes­sional dif­fer­ence.

Kristin Scott Thomas is the ruth­less boss happy to use any un­der­ling as a step­ping stone on the way to greater success. Lu­di­vine Sag­nier is the up-and-coming bright spark who even­tu­ally de­cides to fight back against her boss’s sly tyranny.

Un­for­tu­nately, af­ter an am­bigu­ous, in­ci­sive be­gin­ning, Love Crime tips into such armpit-damp­en­ing ab­sur­dity it could al­most be the work of the cur­rent Brian DePalma. What’s this? It seems as if Pas­sion, DePalma’s lat­est film, ac­tu­ally is based on Love Crime. Now, that really will be some­thing to be­hold.

Ms Thomas and Ms Sag­nier start out as the best of mates. On a typ­i­cal evening, they’ll hud­dle over the lap­top and in­vite hints of lad-mag les­bian in­nu­endo into their con­ver­sa­tion.

Things start to get nasty when Kristin be­gins tak­ing credit for Lu­di­vine’s best ideas. Then the younger woman cops off with her ri­val’s lover. Ten­sions rise. Open hos­til­ity even­tu­ally breaks out.

Tak­ing place in short scenes shot in deep fo­cus, Love Crime builds steadily un­til it en­coun­ters a sharp bend that takes us some­where im­pres­sively un­ex­pected. We don’t wish to give too much away. But the en­tire film ends up look­ing like a hi­lar­i­ously overextended ver­sion of a pro­logue to an un­seen episode of Columbo (di­rected by Brian de Palma, ob­vi­ously).

This is not ex­actly a crit­i­cism. The ac­tion is ut­terly lu­di­crous. But both stars fling them­selves at the ma­te­rial with such gusto that it proves very hard to tear the eyes away. All that’s miss­ing is a vin­tage Peu­geot and a one-eyed man in a rain­coat.

A di­vert­ingly silly guilty plea­sure to close the year.

Di­rected by Alain Corneau. Star­ring Kristin Scott Thomas, Lu­di­vine Sag­nier, Pa­trick Mille, Ger­ald Laroche, Guil­laume Mar­quet Club, IFI, Dublin, 104 min

The catfight breweth: Kristin Scott Thomas in Love Crime

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