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Alice is a promising young artist in Paris. Her boyfriend Franck, a boxer, has just moved in to her attic flat. Then her sister Elsa, a bored housewife, leaves her unfaithful husband Thomas and turns up unannounced to stay with Alice and Franck. Elsa disrupts their life by playing psychological games with them, but they cannot bring themselves to throw her out. Written by
A female artist (Anne Parillaud) is on the verge of success in the art world and has just moved in with her boxer boyfriend (although their nascent relationship is still pretty shaky). Her envious sister (Beatrice Dalle) suddenly shows up at their new loft, having abandoned her family after discovering her husband was unfaithful. She immediately proceeds to destroy the new couple's bliss and tries to ruin her sister's blossoming career.
At first glance, this looks like another 90's "erotic thriller" that appeared in the wake of "Basic Instinct" and "Single White Female", but it is really in the more psychological, more French tradition of Claude Chabrol, who made any number of movies about women overly enmeshed with one another. It is pretty clear why Dalle's character is both envious and resentful of Parillaud's, but it's a lot less clear why her sister puts up with her outrageous behavior (interrupting them during sex, smashing a flower vase, throwing their mother's ashes out the window). Some would also consider it a mistake that the movie doesn't go into full-blown psycho-killer territory at the end, but to me that was the huge mistake with movies like "Single White Female", which start well but become irredeemably stupid. This more psychological kind of thriller CAN work--as it does in the contemporary French film "The Apartment"--but this one just doesn't. It's pretty good for awhile, but it really doesn't seem to know where to go at the end.
Dalle and Parillaud are great asset to the movie (and they both show off whole lot of their great assets). They are both more talented than Bridget Fonda (who had taken over Parillaud's role in the Hollywood remake of "La Femme Nikita" the same year she did "Single White Female") if less talented than Jennifer Jason Leigh. But the two French actresses playing roles that aren't quite believable might be preferable to Leigh playing a role that's very believable, but then goes completely off the rails with the psycho-rampage ending. The guy, meanwhile, is a completely negligible presence who only seems to be there only for the two actresses to rub there beautiful naked bodies against and chew up all the scenery around.
This isn't as good as "The Apartment" (or perhaps "Single White Female" overall), but it's much better than your average "erotic thriller" (which is kind of like saying it smells better than your average pile of dog crap). You can take that as a recommendation or not, I guess. . .
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