Ludivine Sagnier does psychological battle with sultry superbitch Kristin Scott Thomas in this underwhelming corporate thriller.
Set in the high-flying world of corporate business, Alain Corneau's Gallic thriller sees dowdy, but hardworking Junior Executive Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier) become entangled in a web of sex, lies and humiliation at the hands of Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas), her powerful and influential boss who she idolises.
With Christine holding so much sway over Isabelle that she has a hand in everything, from her business proposals to her bedfellow (the ever ready Phillipe, who is also sleeping with Christine), it is only when a colleague points out to her that Christine is stealing all the credit from her jobs that Isabelle decides to offset this tyranny by setting to work on her own secret project.
The discovery of which infuriates Christine so much that she coaxes Phillipe away on the night of a planned date with Isabelle and deliberately calls her during sex. She then shows Isabelle’s consequent frustrations, captured on CCTV, to her colleagues at an office party. The ensuing embarrassment and sinister mind games send Isabelle over the edge, and she sets out to exact her revenge on Christine.
Of all Love Crime’s flaws, it’s main one is its lack of imagination. Early on we are shown the differing lives of the two leads in a selection of parallel edits: Christine, having a privileged, pampered existence of wealth and comfort while Isabelle ekes out an awkward, solitary life, her only outlet being running on a treadmill at the gym.
Where it could be argued that this contrasting of characters is in keeping with the simplicity of the story, it feels like a lazy cliché and is even countered, later on, by the use of flashbacks in black and white, which combined give it the vibe of a TV movie.
Though both Scott Thomas and Sagnier do possess a distinctive onscreen chemistry, it is served up and abandoned very early on, giving way to cardboard flatpack characterisations which see the pair being drawn so that the former comes off like the ice queen and the latter a ludicrous Cinderella, making the leap from frump to femme fatale.
For all the sterile office settings and its Chinese-restaurant-wallpaper-jazz score, Love Crime is just about palatable for the first hour or so. However, hoary devices and a longwinded, predictable, plot let it down a great deal in the second half, and instead of breaking new ground, it opts for tired convention.
Given the surfeit of fast paced, sexy French thrillers, it fails to stand out as anything particularly unique, coming across, instead, as flat, obvious and unrewarding.
A racy noir, focusing subtly on the underlying sexual tension between two business high flyers.
A solid build up gives way to foreseeable plot twists and painfully contrived characters.
A tepid and unsurprising drama that overstays it’s welcome.