‘Girl Cut in Two’ comedic, in a macabre way
Universal Press Syndicate
Aspen, CO Colorado
Claude Chabrol’s “Girl Cut in Two” plays like a triangular romantic comedy until we discover that all three of the lovers are hurtling headlong to self-destruction. Even then it is comedic, in that macabre, Hitchcockian way that takes a certain delight in the flaws of mankind. It’s a crime movie, as most of Chabrol’s 69 films have been, and at first the crime seems to be adultery. He doesn’t leave it at that.
At the center of everything is Gabrielle Deneige (Ludivine Sagnier), a peppy young blonde who does the weather at the local TV station. Her mother runs a bookstore in Lyon and holds an autographing for the best-selling author Charles Saint-Denis (Francois Berleand). Also at the event is a spoiled local rich kid, Paul Gaudens (Benoit Magimel). These two men are going to bring her to a lot of grief.
But notice how nimbly Chabrol glides through his establishing scenes, and how adroitly he introduces other characters (the lecherous TV boss, the spoiled kid’s bitchy mother, Gabrielle’s sensible mother, the author’s femme fatale agent). The story hums along in efficient although absorbing confidence, seeming to show us Gabrielle trapped between Saint-Denis and Paul, who both vow that they love her. Is this what the title means? Surely we won’t really see her cut in two? Well, yes and no. Chabrol’s insidious style is more absorbing than the plot, as it should be.
Chabrol, at 78, is one of four living members of the French New Wave. The others: Jean-Luc Godard (77), Eric Rohmer (88), Jacques Rivette (80). They’ve all made films within the last two years and are said to be in pre-production on new projects. And they said it would never last.
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