Subterfuge gets stretched out for the benefit of those who like a twisty, fairly sturdy story of office politics. It's agile, watchable cinema, though not as delightful as another recent import, Potiche.
The French drama (fully subtitled) Love Crime (Crime d'amour) is better for having Kristin Scott-Thomas (Sarah's Key) and Ludivine Sagnier (The Devil's Double) at the head of its roster.
The late Alain Corneau dishes out much physical and emotional machination in coordinating a serpentine brew in contemporary corporate life fueled by humiliation and jealousy, among other things.
The psychological tension that Corneau, a co-scenarist, devises, gravitates from Scott-Thomas's executive Christine's coquettish behavior towards naive young ingenue colleague Isabelle (Sagnier).
Isabelle is taken by a scarf offered as alms by her cunning, narcissistic boss, but less than admiring when closely examined by her. When another coworker Phillippe (Patrick Mille) arrives at Christine's lavish abode, she sets her focus on the strapping fellow.
The catty, cutthroat derring-do sprinkled with eroticism that ensues when a big meeting with a Cairo-based company looks to put Isabelle on the fast-track to the New York office though it's clear Christine is blossoming from her efforts on the presentation.
Guillaume Marquet offers adequate support as Isabelle's able underling who helps her impress the head office brass much to Christine's chagrin as they want her to remain in the City of Lights. Both women have their way with Phillippe that escalate the nasty power plays between them.
For some, Love Crime might box itself into episodic territory without the overall spry quality of something more mainstream like The Devil Wears Prada. Yet, it has enough moxie from the discomfort aroused by Christine and Isabelle. Loathsomeness and embarrassment amid the intricacies provided by a crafty Corneau make for a formidable foray. A tantalizing, if overwrought two-handler that allows for the steady, often sharp Scott-Thomas to make Sagnier (Swimming Pool) peel away the layers of a young withdrawn, self-effacing woman. A transformative role that taps into often unused reserves of talent (not just noticed in the story by the CEOs) where she can hold her own and follow in the footsteps of an accomplished counterpart.