Modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel. After committing a murder, a young couple on the run find refuge in a remote cottage in the woods, where they become trapped by the perverse hermit who lives there.
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After a perverted impulse drives them to kill, Alice and her boyfriend, Luc, drag the body into the woods, only to find themselves hopelessly lost - much like the fairy-tale plight of Hansel and Gretel. Starving and with no hope of being found, they chance upon a dilapidated cottage where a hulking man takes them prisoner and proceeds to feed Luc's sexual appetite.Written by
Another feather in Ozon's already feather-filled cap!
Francois Ozon has made a name for himself in modern foreign cinema for being more daring and more inventive than most directors would dare to be, and Criminal Lovers is a film that belongs towards the top of his already impressive list of director's credits. Criminal Lovers is a modernisation of the classic Hansel and Gretal tale, which is fused with the 'criminals on the run' theme of which such earlier films such as Badlands and Natural Born Killers utilised so well. Typically for Ozon, there is more to the film than just what it's plot presents and with this common theme the modern day genius has put together a multi-layered work of art, that will be seen differently by whoever sees it. On one hand, it's an exciting crime thriller, but on the other hand it's a tale of redemption, forgiveness and/or retribution. The way that you take the movie will definitely depend on your views on the movie's themes, such as the central one that depicts murder. The film is almost too skillful for it's own good, as it masks it's underlying themes behind it's visage of a shock movie; but if you're smart, they're more than evident.
The man who dared to insert a musical number into a Rainer Werner Fassbinder screenplay hasn't exactly been reserved with the shocks in this movie, and the easily offended should still make sure that they steer clear of it. The film has homosexual undertones galore and the way that the murder happens, along with the amount of sex in the movie, isn't exactly restrained either. The acting is largely good, with the two leads, Natacha Régnier and Jérémie Renier, standing out the most. They both bring exactly the right mood to their characters, which are fascinating specimens in themselves. The way that Ozon has handled the screenplay is superb, as the dialogue is believable and so are all of the character's motivations. Making your audience believe you is one of the hardest things to achieve when penning a screenplay, and Ozon has proved time and time again that he is capable of doing just that. The idea of updating the classic children's story of Hansel and Gretal is definitely a good one, and this film draws much of it's appeal from that central backbone. All in all; kudos, Ozon!
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