The final film of late French filmmaker, Alain Corneau receives a posthumous British cinematic release this month. Love Crime (Crime D’amour) remains a testament to the high quality of Corneau’s work.
Christine, a controlling business executive (Kristin Scott Thomas), leads a young associate, Isabelle, (Ludvine Sagnier) into a controlling game of manipulation and domination. After embarrassing her at a staff function, Isabelle vows deadly revenge on Christine.
Love Crime boasts a near Hitchcockian narrative, proving to be a completely unpredictable ride. Corneau’s film opens with a meeting between Christine and Isabelle, which verges on seduction – we see the young associate drawn to magnetic persona of Christine. As this character dynamic builds we gradually see this idolisation turn into a passionate contempt between both women, as Christine continually toys with Isabelle’s emotions – this cat and mouse relationship makes Love Crime a truly absorbing watch. We see the tension build between the pair until Isabelle reaches breaking point in a twist that completely overturns the narrative of the whole film. This twist creates dozens of questions and mysteries throughout the remainder of the film, which gradually get unravelled in Corneau and Nathalie Carter’s sharp script. The pair pay a strong attention to detail, with meticulous answers to any plot-hole or inconsistency, a viewer may attempt to pick. However, one small flaw lies in Love Crime’s ending which feels too outlandish and contrived to be wholly satisfying, yet is unlikely to spoil your enjoyment of Cournea’s film.
Corneau is a master of crafting intrigue and suspense, allowing us to empathise with Isabelle but keeping us distanced from her motivations, gradually unravelling them by the conclusion of Love Crime. This allows for a magnificent performance from Sagnier as we see the character turn from vulnerable underdog to a more-than-fitting opponent of Christine. The actress is equally convincing as both victim and challenger, boasting her finest performance since Francois Ozon’s Swimming Pool. Kristin Scott-Thomas brings a cold, self-satisfying presence to the role of Christine, truly commanding the screen.
Love Crime may not cover any new ground to a traditional euro-thriller, but proves engaging, sharp and fast paced enough to prove completely enjoyable, particularly thanks to performances from Sagnier and Scott Thomas.
Stars: Ludvine Sagnier, Kristin Scott Thomas,;Patrick Mille
Director: Alain Corneau
Release: 14th December 2012
Certificate: 15 (UK)