This French dramatic thriller is so gleefully trashy that it's rather entertaining, as long as you don't try to take it seriously. Sleek and seductive, it's a pungent tale that plays out like a particularly lurid corporate soap. It also gives smart actresses Sagnier and Scott Thomas plenty of juicy material to play with as two women who try to derail each others' lives.
In the Paris office of a multinational corporation, Christine (Scott Thomas) is a fiercely ambitious executive looking for opportunities to advance her career. But then so is her brainy assistant Isabelle (Sagnier). And when Christine passes one of Isabelle's clever ideas off as her own, Isabelle gets even by seducing Christine's boyfriend (Mille) and deploying her assistant (Marquet) on secret missions. From here the manipulative manoeuvring accelerates, as both women try to get the upper hand. And Isabelle seems to be playing a much longer game.
Director Corneau fully indulges in the story's sordid elements, letting both Sagnier and Scott Thomas play up their characters' nasty ambitions as they engage in a vicious tit for tat. Every word and gesture is designed to bring the other one down a notch. As the balance of power shifts back and forth, we are aware that there's a larger plot developing off-screen, so watching it emerge is a lot of fun, especially then there's so much twisted chemistry between these two actresses and the hapless men they use to carry out their evil scheming.
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Specifically, Mornings is the story of two composers, Sainte Colombe (Jean-Pierre Marielle) and his protege, Marin Marais (played by Gérard Depardieu as an older man and by his son Guillaume Depardieu for the bulk of the film). Sainte Colombe quickly earns a reputation as a master musician -- adding a seventh string to the viol, for example -- but his shunning of the king even more quickly earns him a place in rural exile. As Colobe's wife has died, he's dedicated himself to his hermitage, and more importantly his music.
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Young Amelie (Sylvie Testud) is a Belgian who spent the first five years of her life in Japan and never lost her love for the culture. Now out of college and fluent in Japanese, she returns to Tokyo on a one-year contract to act as a translator for the gigantic Yumimoto Corporation. But no sooner does she take her seat across from her immediate superior, the impossibly glamorous Fubuki (Kaori Tsuji), than the culture clashes begin.
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'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.