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.
Continue reading: Love Crime [Crime D'Amour] Review
In 1964 Riems, Madeleine (Sagnier) accidentally begins moonlighting as a prostitute before falling in love with a client, the charming Czech doctor Jaromil (Bukvic). He whisks her off to Prague, until the Russian invasion of 1968 and Jaromil's infidelity drive her back to France with daughter Vera.
Madeleine remarries, but never loses her feelings for Jaromil. Even some 40 years later (now played by Deneuve and Forman), they're meeting in secret, while Vera (now Mastroianni) is struggling with the fact that she has fallen in love with the wrong man (Schneider).
Continue reading: Beloved Review
In 1990 Iraq, Saddam Hussein's son Uday (Cooper) is on a rampage of rape, torture and murder when he grabs his old school friend Latif Yahia (Cooper again) and forces him to become his stand-in. Latif isn't allowed to say no and, after extensive training and plastic surgery, plus the approval of Saddam (Quast), he becomes Uday's doppelganger. But he never hides his belief that Uday is a psychopath, even to his mentor Munem (Rawl). And he takes an even bigger risk when he falls for one of Uday's girls, Sarrab (Sagnier).
Continue reading: The Devil's Double Review
Based on a true story, The Devil's Double is about Latif Yahia and Uday Hussein (the latter of whom is the eldest son of future dictator Saddam Hussein) who were former school mates in Baghdad with a striking resemblance to each other. Years later, in 1987, Latif is summoned by Uday and is propositioned with what is described to him as a great honour: because of the two's similarity, Latif has been chosen to be Uday's body double, a deal he has no choice but to accept or have his family condemned to death.
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In 1973, rampant criminal Jacques Mesrine (Cassel) has finally been captured by the cops but stages a daring courtroom escape with the help of his pal Charlie (Lanvin). He's soon back to his bank-robbing, executive-kidnapping ways, taunting the tenacious detective Broussard (Gourmet) even when he's arrested.
In prison he concocts an elaborate escape with fellow inmate Besse (Amalric), and the two go on another brazen crime-spree, meeting Mesrine's next wife Sylvie (Sagnier) along the way. But as Mesrine adopts the politics of Germany's Baader-Meinhof gang, the cops are closing in.
Continue reading: Mesrine: Public Enemy No 1 Review
Chabrol, who also co-wrote the script with Cécile Maistre, based his story in some measure upon the sensational case of famous architect Stanford White's murder at Madison Square Garden's rooftop theater in 1906. A classic "murder of the century" case, the White murder had a plethora of salacious details for titillation, a number of which Chabrol cannily appropriates for his own scenario. Set in the present day in Lyon, A Girl Cut in Two seems at first like another portrait of an ennui-cloaked artiste, whose fame and fortune no longer excites him. Charles Saint-Denis (François Berléand, excellent in his understatement here just as he was in Tell No One) is an aging novelist of incomparable fame living the perfect life. He lives on a beautiful estate, is feted for his work almost nonstop, has a wife who doesn't appear to notice or care about his habitual flirting, and the money to do essentially whatever he wants. Being a famous novelist on the prowl, it doesn't take long for Saint-Denis to zero in on one of Lyon's most attractive single females, the quite young and innocently beautiful Gabrielle Deneige (Ludivine Sagnier).
Continue reading: A Girl Cut In Two Review
Has a director ever gone so 180 as Honore, last seen offering the inside-out Dans Paris. Love Songs, his third and weakest film, builds on an endlessly-trampled possibility: Is it conceivable to have a relationship with three people where everyone happily coexists? As always, there's a couple at the middle, Ismaël (Louis Garrel) and Julie (Ludivine Sagnier), who are happy and in love but want to try their luck with another person. Enter Alice (Regular Lovers' Clotilde Hesme), a co-worker of Ismaël's. Alice and Julie fool around, and so do Alice and Ismaël, but Julie is unsatisfied with the experiment, which might explain why she shares the news with her entire family.
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Project overseers Emmanuel Benbihy and Tristan Carné wanted to create a cinematic map of Paris, with each short film representing one of the city's 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods). They ended up with 18 films, none of them more than a few minutes long and directed by a glittering, international roster of filmmakers. While none of the films here are anything approaching masterpieces, hardly a one is in any way a chore to sit through, which has to be some sort of an accomplishment.
Continue reading: Paris, Je T'aime Review
Though it goes against everything he stands for, this rejuvenated Pan actually shows signs of growth and maturity. Special effects advancements help Peter and his cohorts pop off the screen. Cinematographer Donald McAlpine expands the rich color palette he utilized in such vivid films as Moulin Rogue and Romeo + Juliet. And director P.J. Hogan slips in subplots of unrequited love, develops pangs of loneliness, and mixes fleeting flights of happiness with his heroism.
Continue reading: Peter Pan (2003) Review
In an era of severely dumbed-down children's movies, the first live-action "Peter Pan" picture since the silent era does something extraordinary -- it un-Disneyfies the story, revives the deeper themes of J.M. Barrie's original book and play, and emerges as an appropriately wily family-fare delight.
From its exquisite, Maxfield-Parish-inspired Neverland of golden sunlight, lush green forests and cotton-candy clouds to the quintessently pubescent and enigmatically tingly chemistry between Peter (the strangely pretty 14-year-old Jeremy Sumpter) and Wendy (the even prettier 13-year-old Rachel Hurd-Wood), the film is a vivid and surprisingly visceral experience.
Director P.J. Hogan ("My Best Friend's Wedding") evokes the true wonder of childhood in the eyes of his young stars as Peter Pan, the mythical leafy-clad boy who refused to grow up, hovers with the power of happy thoughts and fairy dust outside the third-story window of Wendy Darling on a snowy night in 1900s London, engrossed in the stories of adventure that the girl spins with wide-eyed zeal for her little bothers John and Michael.
Continue reading: Peter Pan Review
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