Brutal boss gets serious payback
By Michael O'Sullivan
Friday, Sep 30, 2011
"Love Crime," as the name implies, involves a breach of the law, but it isn't exactly a mystery. We know exactly who done it, as well as why and how. In fact, we can even sympathize, if only a little bit, with the perpetrator, a junior executive who, after personal and professional humiliations at the hands of a ruthless boss, decides that a little payback is in order.
What we don't know - and what keeps this French drama interesting, if just this side of spellbinding - is why antihero Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier) is practically turning herself in to the police, when, by all appearances, she has just committed the perfect crime. The deliciously complicated con that Isabelle constructs, and the way that filmmaker Alain Corneau slowly peels away its layers, until Isabelle's true heart is revealed, are twisted pleasures.
As the film opens, Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas) and her underling Isabelle are shown working on a business proposal in Paris. They're a great team. Isabelle doesn't even mind when Christine steals the credit for one of Isabelle's brilliant ideas - an idea that clinches the deal for their multinational corporation and that gets Christine noticed for a coveted slot in the New York office.
But Christine's betrayal does bug Isabelle's assistant, Daniel (Guillaume Marquet), who innocently suggests that Isabelle might want to stand up for herself on another upcoming project by cutting Christine out of the loop.
Nothing personal, mind you; it's only business.
Except that when Christine discovers Isabelle's deception, the claws come out. So much for that great team. From now on, it's every woman for herself, with Isabelle plotting a elaborate revenge on her former mentor and, most bizarrely, planting clues that point straight back to Isabelle.
The always-wonderful Scott Thomas is baroque, if not medieval, in her torture of her protege, which includes the manipulation of a romantic entanglement that the two women share with a handsome lawyer (Patrick Mille). Talk about "Horrible Bosses." You'll want to murder Christine.
But Sagnier is even better, going from a naif to cold-blooded climber whose criminal calculations put Christine's inappropriate office behavior to shame.
The fun really starts when Isabelle is arrested and - get this - confesses to the crime. How Isabelle uses everything her mentor taught her - including not just business savvy but a deep understanding of human nature - to take her vengeance on Christine is both thrilling to watch and more than a little chilling.
The movie is called "Love Crime." But its hidden message has more to do with business than with passion. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Especially one in a power suit, who knows how to work a room.
Contains obscenity, sex scenes, violence and drug use. In French and some English with English subtitles.