A perfect crime – is there such a thing? That’s what French director Alain Corneau sets out to prove in the suspense thriller, “Love Crime” starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier. What turned out to be his last film (Corneau died of cancer in 2010), the director also co-wrote “Love Crime” with Natalie Carter from his original premise.
The movie opens on an evening work session at the home of successful international corporate executive, Christine (Scott Thomas). Her assistant, the junior executive, Isabelle (Sagnier) sits rapt on the couch, drinking in Christine’s business acumen as they prep for a presentation to take place in Cairo. Christine is at times flirtatious – she massages Isabelle’s tense shoulders and gives Isabelle a scarf that she compliments. But when Isabelle toasts their success and says they make a good team, the mood turns awkward. Christine’s shoots a blank stare that seems to say Isabelle’s gone too far. When Christine’s boyfriend, Philippe (Patrick Mille) arrives and the two become demonstrative, Isabelle can’t leave quick enough.
Thus begins the cutthroat corporate cat and mouse game that will ensue between Christine and Isabelle, one that’s full of backstabbing, sexual innuendoes, humiliation and even murder. Taking a page from the Bette Davis classic, “All About Eve,” Christine’s motto that she passes on to her young protege is “if you want it, watch out!” Just like Eve Harrington emulating Margo Channing in “Eve,” Isabelle is smart enough and driven enough to take Christine’s seat at the executive table, especially after a series of humiliations dumped onto Isabelle.
Part of the fun in watching, “Love Crime” is to see Scott Thomas in action. Viciously calculating, Scott Thomas conveys a depth of emotion often with just a glance or a quick quip. Sagnier, in Los Angeles earlier this summer to promote “Love Crime” and “The Devil’s Double” talked to me about the skill of British actresses and her co-star in particular, “They doesn’t have to do much in order to express a lot… especially in the case of Kristin Scott Thomas, you have a feeling [she’s] like a tiger that’s soft to caress, but she can jump at you and cut your throat at any time.” A perfect description of Christine in “Love Crime.”
“Love Crime” has plenty of plot twists and turns to keep viewers guessing, including a nice spin during the film’s final moments. Unfortunately though, the film’s first half packs the punch that falls flat during the narrative’s second half. It’s true that complicated set-ups need to be revealed, but the pacing sputters unevenly.
Too often, the issue with suspense thrillers is that the set-up is more exciting than the climatic reveal or finish. “Love Crime” falls a bit into this trap with its intricate scripting. In the end though, it is the sexually charged corporate maneuvering between Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier that makes “Love Crime” a film to watch.
“Love Crime” is 106 minutes and Not Rated. It opens September 2 in Los Angeles and New York. It’s also available On Demand.
For more reviews by Lori Huck, check out:
‘Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame’ Movie Review
‘Sarah’s Key’ Film Review: A Powerful Film Stirs Up a French Tragedy
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