Chabrol, who also co-wrote the script with Cécile Maistre, based his story in some measure upon the sensational case of famous architect Stanford White's murder at Madison Square Garden's rooftop theater in 1906. A classic "murder of the century" case, the White murder had a plethora of salacious details for titillation, a number of which Chabrol cannily appropriates for his own scenario. Set in the present day in Lyon, A Girl Cut in Two seems at first like another portrait of an ennui-cloaked artiste, whose fame and fortune no longer excites him. Charles Saint-Denis (François Berléand, excellent in his understatement here just as he was in Tell No One) is an aging novelist of incomparable fame living the perfect life. He lives on a beautiful estate, is feted for his work almost nonstop, has a wife who doesn't appear to notice or care about his habitual flirting, and the money to do essentially whatever he wants. Being a famous novelist on the prowl, it doesn't take long for Saint-Denis to zero in on one of Lyon's most attractive single females, the quite young and innocently beautiful Gabrielle Deneige (Ludivine Sagnier).
Continue reading: A Girl Cut In Two Review
In Smet and Magimel, Chabrol has found willing partners for his bleak little tale -- like the director, they keep things under wraps, playing things close to the vest, which is harder than it may sound, given the high drama plot, taken from a Ruth Rendell novel. Philippe is a cipher straight from a detective story of years past, working as a numbers guy for a contractor in a small French town, he's completely bottled up inside his trim suits and slightly superior demeanor, just aching for something to come along and bust things up. After easing us into Philippe's life with some minor melodrama involving the three women in Philippe's house (mother, two sisters), Chabrol drops Senta in to knock Philippe out of his rut, and she's perfect for the job.
Continue reading: The Bridesmaid Review
The problem for distinguished actor Michel Serrault (Les Diaboliques, 1954) is in withholding his adoration of co-star cutie Claire Bouanich (as Elsa, in her screen debut) long enough to portray ornery neighbor Julien, a self-contained entomologist who is too absorbed in his butterfly collection to welcome a child's attentions. Pretending to see her as an over-inquisitive annoyance demanded professional distance in order to allow the dramatic design to ensnare him (and us) into her magnetic little net.
Continue reading: The Butterfly (2002) Review
This Sade (Daniel Auteuil) is no less seductively charismatic than Rush was, but he has less to do, as Sade chooses to focus more attention on the cultural climate than any specific, provocative interaction between characters. Rush was allowed more leeway to display range from torment to arrogance while Auteuil's Sade is a bit too impervious to his surroundings. What they do both achieve is providing an easy attraction. Neither have the stereotypically sexual physique the average woman clambers for, but their wit and intelligence are arousing. The acting isn't necessarily better in the English counterpart, but there is more weight given to individual motivation so that you're more attuned to personal struggles in the progressively oppressive Napoleonic era.
Continue reading: Sade Review
A Parisian couple in their 40s set off on a lengthy trip to pick up their kids from camp in Southern France. Hélène (Carole Bouquet) is a successful attorney who is a beloved, crucial part of her firm. Antoine (Jeane Pierre Darroussin) works for an insurance company, and it's very apparent that this trip has a very different meaning for him. In the movie's early moments, you see that he's dissatisfied with his role in the relationship. He's waiting on her to arrive; she's the one with the demands. He leaves work without any notice.
Continue reading: Red Lights Review
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