A veteran high school teacher befriends a younger art teacher, who is having an affair with one of her 15-year-old students. However, her intentions with this new "friend" also go well beyond platonic friendship.
Residents of an enclosed neighborhood in the middle of Mexico DF are shocked by a violent crime, and for one resident in particular, young Alejandro, the drama is ratcheted up when he encounters the lone kid who escaped the event and is hiding out within the neighborhood's borders.
Daniel Giménez Cacho,
Gabrielle is a young woman with a future: she's the weather girl on a local TV station destined to a rapid promotion. She's self-confident and self-possessed. In Lyon, on successive days, she meets two men of high status: Charles, a middle-aged writer, and Paul, the heir to a pharmaceutical fortune. Both are attracted to her and both have flaws immediately evident: Charles, who is married, can be dismissive; Paul can be possessive and threatening. To the dismay of one, Gabrielle chooses the other. How will each man handle her choice, and after she falls in love, can she sustain her personal strength? Written by
both slyly self-aware and an enjoyably serious movie about ill-fated bourgeois
At this point in Claude Chabrol's career one might expect him to cut loose and do something just totally crazy and not to give a hoot about his consistent style as a director. A Girl Cut in Two, for better or worse, is still disciplined and carefully constructed and directed, and maybe because of this once in a while suffers from not wavering in its approach; it's kind of like That Almost Obscure Object of Desire. But within its set terms the film is enjoyable and even has a kind of biting underlying wit to the proceedings.
I would think this film might appeal more to the middle or lower class as opposed to upper class and wealthy as the former can perhaps relish in this tumultuous love life of this weather girl Gabrielle (very beautiful Ludivine Sagnier, kind of a prettier Chloe Sevigny) and the classic "turning the men's worlds upside down" formula. As for fans of Chabrol, and this goes without saying it's not a great film, it's a sign that, like Woody Allen, he isn't going anywhere and still has some ideas kicking around.
It's about the effect Gabrielle has on a man twice her age, novelist Charles Saint-Denis (Francois Berleand in a quietly powerful and thoughtful performance), and a spoiled and possibly emotionally combustible guy more her age, Paul (Benoit Magimel, very good in that his performance is narrowed to being this creepy person). She really is head over heels for the older man, who sadly is also (happily) married to his wife of many years, while Paul does all but wave a sign saying "pick me, I'm free, pick me" (with the line "I get what I always want" crossed out save for when he's drunk). It's like a double Catch 22 situation, leading up to a marriage, a murder, and other occurrences. Chabrol presents all of this in what appears to be a straightforward style, which usually suits him best, and within this comes out the moral complexities.
This could be enough for a decent movie, if maybe a little slight in the mostly bourgeois atmosphere, but Chabrol heaps on some social commentary to boot: it's not just Paul but also Charles that put up a kind of front of complacency that is hard to crack for Gabrielle. It's slightly playful, mostly harsh, but always controlled satire, not of the laugh-out-loud kind but where one might chuckle or raise an eyebrow at a plot point or scene of specific acting. It's an interesting approach which isn't entirely effective but never makes it boring. A Girl Cut in Two is acted just as it should (Caroline Silhol particularly gives a deliciously icy performance as Paul's mother), and is written and directed with a knowledge of its audience. 7.5/10
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