It's a crime

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

French New-Waver Claude Chabrol is often compared to Hitchcock for his visual precision and penchant for tales of murder, both of which are on display in Chabrol's latest, A Girl Cut in Two. What sets it apart, however, is a lingering question over exactly who the victim in this story really is, even though the murder appears on screen, plain as day.

Young, gorgeous and vivacious, Gabrielle Deneige (Ludivine Sagnier) quickly attracts admirers through her nightly weather reports on a Lyon TV station. She falls for one, noted author Charles Saint-Denis (Francois Berleand), though he's married and many years her senior. Yet she's also drawn to handsome pharmaceuticals heir Paul Gaudens (Benoit Magimel), despite his truculent, proprietary nature.

As their triangle is progressively filled in, Gabrielle emerges as someone smarter and stronger than her first impression, regardless of her choice in men. And her suitors are exposed as selfish and destructive, a force that will take all three of them down in ways you don't expect.

Sagnier handles her part with perfect, innocent wisdom and an appeal that mostly smoothes over some of Gabrielle's foolish errors in judgment. Like the audience and the men in her life, Chabrol is transfixed on Gabrielle, and his camera moves share her easy, knowing grace.