A Girl Cut in Two (La Fille coupée en deux)

French master of suspense Claude Chabrol has come out with a powerful psycho-sexual thriller that will both enthrall and entertain you.  Chabrol also directed 2005′s critically acclaimed Comedy of Power, and the equally successful The Bridesmaid.  Including his latest A Girl Cut in Two, Chabrol explores the darker side of the Bourgeois, it’s fascinating.

The script was co-written by Chabrol, and Cécile Maistre.  The story follows the up and coming, fresh faced weather girl in Lyon, Gabrielle (played magnificently by Ludivine Sagnier).  She’s a smart, beautiful girl who’s as innocent as can be.  Sagnier played the part perfectly with subtle nuances that belong to a seasoned professional.  She delivered her biting quips with perfect timing, but also showed an emotional depth when the situation requires it.  She falls in love with French literary hero Charles Saint-Denis (played by François Berléand).  The sixty-ish man plays her for a fool, telling her she may be the last person he ever sleeps with, and calls her his angel.  She, being in her mid-twenties believes the promise that he’ll eventually leave his saint of a wife.  Without reason, he cuts of all communication with her, leaving her in a funk that only the charming, rich, yet obviously emotionally unstable Benoît Magimel (Chabrol alum Benoit Magimel) can seem to help.  When he threatens to leave her because she’s obviously obsessed with Charles, she agrees to marry him, starting a horrifying marriage where no one is happy, not Gabrielle, not Benoît or his hoity toity in-laws, and certainly not the outrageously jealous Charles who does what he can to stop the marriage.

The are several other intriguing plot twists and turn, but revealing any of them would be a disservice to anyone really interested.  Let me be clear: you will not, for even one second, regret watching this suspenseful, incredibly smart piece.  I was also pleased with the restraint Chabrol showed when dealing with the actual sexuality scene in the film.  My memory may fail me, but I’m positive there is absolutely no nudity during the film, and while a few times, people are shown in bed, there’s nothing to warrant more than a PG-13 rating (the film is currently not rated, so I expected more… open sexuality).  Instead of focusing on the dirty details of these lurid relationships, Chabrol chose to focus on the consequences of them, to show the psychological effects of human sexuality.  It’s an absolutely remarkable film with one of the most tense, and disturbing climaxes I’ve seen in recent film history.  Again, Chabrol pulls this off without gratuitous violence, over the top vulgarity or sexuality.  Bravo.

★★★★

Rottentomatoes: 84%Cream of the Crop: 94%

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