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Customer Review

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Control, January 13, 2012
This review is from: Love Crime (DVD)
Love Crime is a film about people trying to control each other.

This was a movie of small details. During the opening montage, it becomes clear there is some kind of underlying intimate relationship between Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier) and Christine (Kristen Scott Thomas). In the first cuts, it becomes clear Christine is the boss and Isabelle is a colleague or subordinate. As the work session in Christine's house progresses, each advances toward the other. It's a slow intimate tender dance. The sharp contrast though, they both use vous, the formal you in French. There's no equivalent in English, but that layer adds to the clear distance and formality Isabelle feels. In fact until about three quarters of the way through the film, Isabelle uses vous with everybody - except for a critical plot moment where she uses the familiar tu with her doctor. At just the moment when it seems like something will happen between them, in bursts Philippe. He and Christine attack each other like animals. Cut away to Christine lying bored in bed with Philippe pounding away on top of her. Ultimately this is contrasted to Isabelle lying perfectly straight in her bed.

This film twists and turns a few directions. The story climaxes just past halfway and it then becomes a mystery of why people are doing what they do. The ending is somewhat of a surprise.

There are a few moments where I had to suspend belief, just go along with the movie. It is true; the kind of advances a boss made to her employee isn't tolerated at work. However, it isn't too hard to imagine that this is some kind of cutthroat business where people do whatever it takes to get ahead. Christine is young and ambitious; it isn't too hard to imagine her doing some of these things. Americans were portrayed as not being very bright, or at least they were the bull in the china shop in a very formal business. The police couldn't possibly be that stupid, they do not come off as particularly good at solving a crime. The French criminal system may have been portrayed accurately. To American eyes, I would hate to be accused of a crime in France, the police and the judge seemed to arrive at a conviction incredibly quickly. Due process appears to be non-existent, or they have their version of due process.

The director, Alain Corneau, uses the frame surprisingly well. Shots that appear too wide frequently have a small detail that is important. The pacing of the film is pretty good. There is a very difficult moment at exactly halfway through the film. I found myself wondering when the story would take off, change direction, and deliver the dramatic conflict. It took a good fifteen minutes before that happened. The black and white flashback scenes were almost too much. Corneau went just over the fine line of showing too much detail and not enough in those flashbacks.

Kristen Scott Thomas is perfectly cast. She can be nasty mean, sexy, then sweet all in a few minutes. She is a beautiful British actress that has a perfect French accent (yes she moved to France when she was 19, but there are so many people that carry their original accent as a badge). Thomas has a long filmography both in French and English. She was particularly good in I've Loved You So Long (I've Loved You So Long). Ludivine Sagnier was an interesting choice. Her range was amazing, at times she looked incredibly beautiful and others she just looked like that insane person on the street corner homeless person. Sagnier was the out of control daughter in Swimming Pool (Swimming Pool (Unrated Version)). She was also in the unfortunately awful Love Songs (Love Songs). The supporting cast was there to do exactly that, support these two as the story revolved entirely around them.

The film is not rated. It's difficult to decide what rating this film would get, possibly near an R rating. There were several bedroom scenes, but everything was covered up (oh there was a very brief flash of Kristen Scott Thomas' breast). On the other hand, what people were doing in those bedroom scenes was pretty clear, not much was left to the imagination. What strong language was said in French was never translated (the f bomb was thrown a few times in French but they chose to use other words). Frankly the big dramatic moment, much worse is shown on television. Yes, this film would get an R rating, there is a moment where somebody is shown using cocaine. This is a film that deals with a mature subject. Honestly, a mature younger viewer would not have a lot of trouble with this film.

The movie is presented in French with English subtitles. The French translation is not great. This was a hard film to translate since the use of vous and tu (formal and familiar) were important to the plot, both words translate to one word, you. There were a number of times where the subtitle wasn't exactly what was said. The DVD has no bonus features, only a set of trailers. This is an IFC / Sundance film, so the trailers were very good.

Love Crime isn't for everybody. It is very French and has a number of twists and turns in the mystery. It is an intimate film about psychological control. I enjoyed the details the director carefully placed in this film. I smiled at the end, more of an ironic smile than a funny smile.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 14, 2012 5:58:08 PM PST
prisrob says:
Terrific review- convinced me to watch the film, was undecided undecided until I read your review.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 6:51:17 PM PST
Dan Lebryk says:
Thank you, I hope you enjoy the film.

Posted on Jan 17, 2012 8:59:03 AM PST
I think that was a prosecutor, not a judge.

Or a US military tribunal.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2012 9:19:05 AM PST
Dan Lebryk says:
That's very funny Erich - you are so right.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 29, 2012 11:18:17 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 29, 2012 11:25:46 PM PDT
The French system uses a juge d'instruction to investigate the case, dig up the facts, and free the innocent. If it gets to a trial, you are probably guilty.

Posted on Jul 4, 2012 10:42:19 AM PDT
Promise says:
Thanks for the info on the formal and intimate versions of "you" in French. I missed that and it is important to the character of Isabelle.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 6:33:22 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 4, 2012 6:33:35 PM PDT
Dan Lebryk says:
You are so welcome R. Swanson. That just doesn't translate into English, we have no equivalent. And you are right, it was very important for the characters.
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