Love Crime/Crime D'Amour

Fri, Dec 21, 2012, 00:00

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

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 over-extended 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.