Amusing, if not too divided, Claude Chabrol's A Girl Cut in Two (in French with English subtitles) is truly a family affair. It has an air of class about it and spins parabolically around their differences.
The director's darkly sardonic look is abetted in the screenplay department by stepdaughter Cecile Maistre, as well as son Thomas as a high-powered attorney.
Though more appealing to lovers of the French and their haute coutre across the Atlantic, the movie works in Chabrol's familiar unnerving Rear Window element.
It centers on the triangular relationship between the rather private television weather lady Gabrielle (Ludivine Sagnier), popular author Charles (Francois Berleand) and pompous pharmaceutical heir Paul (Benoit Magimel, now becoming a Chabrol favorite).
There's a nice case for Lyons as a wonderful tourist destination where much wining and dining is a must; the somewhat vivacious Gabrielle soon engages on a tryst with Charles, many years her senior after he's interviewed at her station and at a book signing. Charles has much devotion from his wife (Valeria Cavalli) and a close relationship with his pragmatic editor (Mathilda May).
The spoiled, possibly mad Paul has a deep animosity towards Charles, as the outrageous, dastardly dandy, wildly coiffed guy becomes smitten with Gabrielle. One is put into her vantage point of who these men really are in her life.
Beside showcasing quite a wardrobe, Magimel really has that in-your-face spry sensibility that works hard to build the duality as the clandestine and stuff in your closet turn on the film's latter conflict. One, however, may be confused by some of the character's motivations and how they fit into narrative continuity. Sagnier suggests a lovelorn woman in emotional strife, with feelings at least for someone like the experienced, esteemed Charles.
A Girl Cut in Two situates class and power with some aplomb, even if the psychological angle carries more ambiguity than complexity with it.
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