Thursday, October 27, 2011

Guilty as - originally - charged?

Alain Corneau’s Love Crime (opening Friday at the Landmark Main in Royal Oak) stars Kristin Scott Thomas (KST) and Ludivine Sagnier in a murder mystery that takes place at the highest levels of a multinational corporation. Scott Thomas as Christine is Sagnier’s (Isabelle’s) boss. Isabelle is young, smart and ambitious but in an ethical way that will help the corporation. She reports to Thomas who heaps praise upon her business proposals, which win client after client. The problem arises when Isabelle learns that Christine is taking personal credit for Isabelle’s ideas. Christine makes no apologies. “Good team work means we all win out.” Isabelle accepts this and moves on. Through a colleague Daniel (Guillaume Marquet) Isabelle is given an assignment away from Christine’s eyes. When the delighted American executives, for whom she drew up the proposal, come to Paris on the spur of the moment, she contacts Christine but not in enough time. Christine admonishes her after typically accepting congratulations from the Americans for knowing “how to delegate.” In her own defence Isabelle tells Christine,”I listened to you; I learned to act like you.” Meanwhile Christine had developed a kind of romantic crush on her acolyte, which Isabelle half-heartedly had gone along with. But then Isabelle becomes romantically involved with Christine’s paramour, Philippe (Patrick Mille). Christine calls Philippe, whose law firm works for Christine’s company, to her office. She tells him he must pay a significant debt or she will report him to regulatory authorities. Literally choking after the meeting he angrily fends off Isabelle. Later he apologizes that it was all because of Christine and he wants to make up. Isabelle agrees to meet him. But when he doesn’t show she calls his home only to have Christine answer. “The woman who plays with you destroys you,” Christine says. Enraged, Isabelle, in a frenzy,  crashes her car. From here the story is all downhill. Corneau, who at 67 died after the film was made, said the plot turns on vengeance from humiliation. It also plays with the concept of false evidence and the wrongfully accused. And while there are enough clever plot devices in the film to throw the legal beagles off track I remain with the prosecutor’s first conclusion. But the story is engaging enough and there’s a stunning score from jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. KST is starting to age at 51 – gone are the full high cheeks; her face now is more lined and drawn. Sagnier at 32 is a young accomplished French actress, and no stranger to similar roles. She was in François Ozon’s 2003 Swimming Pool and his 8 Women (2002), which actually was a musical comedy murder mystery. Love Crime’s scenes are taut and the actors bring enough to the roles to make their characters convincing. It’s the film’s general premise that didn’t work. Guilty as – originally – charged, I say.

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