Writer/director Alain Corneau’s final film – he died in 2010 – has pretensions to be noirish in a 1940s sort of way while at the same time urging on the view that it is women who are real sharks in the boardroom, and not men.
But it also hints at what some people – here they happen to be of the ‘gentler’ sex – will do to advance themselves. In the case of Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier) it is remaking herself in the image of her ball-busting boss, Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas), an icy corporate exec with her eye on fast-track promotion.
Isabelle finds herself taken under Christine’s elegant wing but just as quickly humiliated – publicly and cruelly – when she dares to outshine her on a deal. Thus begins an unspoken war between mistress and acolyte.
To offer more would be to undermine Corneau’s tasty little thriller with its twists, turns, seeming cul-de-sacs and clever escapes. This is a delicious portrait in manipulation, seduction and power play. It is also the type of film Scott Thomas (now churning out movies on the continent) can do in her sleep.
Yet her hideous boss – a vindictive, friendless control freak – pales beside Sagnier’s willing clone. In the end Christine falls victim to the very monster she has created.
Love Crime is not a classic. However it dares to present revenge as a dish savoured by two wholly different – and very similar – women. It takes audiences on an outrageous leap into the unknown, keeps them guessing via a police investigation that ricochets from suspicion to uncertainty to warm friendliness and presents men as dupes and dunderheads.