Love Crime

Jeopardy Up the Corporate Ladder

         
 

01 September 2011| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

What a masterful thriller! Love Crime (French, in English subtitles) pits rising protégé Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier) against her scheming senior executive Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas). Christine is one of these bosses that takes credit for other people’s work and yet expects full love and loyalty from her underling. Isabelle is the dogged and meticulously neat professional whose personal life is debased in the face of 24-hour occupation devotion. After the inevitable breaking point, the ensuing corporate backstabbing plays out with powerful intelligence with both opponents out to destroy each other’s reputation and future. Thomas channels coldness and treachery in a way that has rarely been demonstrated this side of Faye Dunaway’s “Network” (1976). She is the ice queen of horrible bosses. Actually, “Love Crime” can be seen as the dramatic-thriller version of “Horrible Bosses,” and I think smart moviegoers were wondering while watching that comedy what a thriller with some threshold would be like playing from that same scenario.

There was a time that “challenging” was an operative word to describe a great thriller, and I hope moviegoers find that word again as an enticement. This is one of the brainiest, most high-stakes and zig-zagging thrillers I have seen in a long time. Following the hole-plagued “Point Blank,” this is what I feel is what the French really do best (it might be, by my standards, the very best French thriller since 1990’s “Monsieur Hire”).

There is something tantalizing by not just action, but internal scope of character, that makes the direction by Alain Corneau so brilliant (this César award winning filmmaker died shortly after this film’s completion). Corneau doesn’t just lay out plot points, he gets us scrutinizing the very complex characters and performances of his players. Sagnier, in a fascinating enigmatic performance, has us wondering if she really is as indefatigable as we think she is – the revenge she plots is elaborately jerry-rigged, yet we wonder if her stress management can handle the severe swings.

We are certainly on Sagnier’s side to get every credit and exoneration of character that she asks for simply because she is deadly smart, especially in the way she plans things weeks in advance – movie tickets as a whereabouts alibi and being unforgettably rude to a sales clerk. More than just impressed, I was under the vise of her diabolical scheming, and there is no other way to say it: I couldn’t have been more riveted by the last half.

I want to make a note to all. Yes, it is challenging but in a way that shouldn’t scare you. It is a thriller that can be followed, and can be delineated with ease as it conducts itself. You don’t need a Masters in film, you just need love and gratitude for great storytelling and admiration for flawless acting. The jazzy music score that connotes sly malevolence is also a fine component. This very well might make my year’s ten best list.

106 Minutes. Unrated.

MYSTERY-SUSPENSE / DIABOLICAL PLOTTING / LATE NIGHT THRILLS

Film Cousins: “Network” (1976); “Final Analysis” (1992); “Disclosure” (1994); “Horrible Bosses” (2011).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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