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Girl Cut In Two, The (La Fille Coupee En Deux)

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Review byMatthew Turner20/05/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 115 mins

Enjoyably dark, superbly acted French drama that proves veteran director Claude Chabrol hasn't lost his touch.

What's it all about?
Veteran director Claude Chabrol (79 this year) returns with The Girl Cut In Two, a present-day French drama whose climax is loosely based on a real life incident from 1906. Ludivine Sagnier stars as Gabrielle Deneige, a TV weather girl who begins an affair with renowned author Charles Saint-Denis (Francois Berleand) after the pair meet by chance at the TV studio.

Despite the significant age gap and the fact that Charles is still happily married to his wife of 25 years (Valeria Cavalli), he continues his affair with Gabrielle and gradually initiates her into a shady world of high class sex clubs. Meanwhile, obnoxious, ultra-rich pharmaceutical heir Paul Gaudens (Benoit Magimel) becomes increasingly obsessed with Gabrielle and is furious to discover her affair with Charles, towards whom he harbours an irrational hatred.

The Good
Ludivine Sagnier is great as Gabrielle and she has surprisingly strong chemistry with Berleand, despite the whole age gap thing. In addition, Berleand is perfectly cast as Charles, while there's strong support from Magimel and from ‘80s sexpot Mathilda May as the mysterious, alluring Capucine, whose appearances are all too brief.

Chabrol's films are frequently referred to as Hitchcockian and there's a definite trace of old Alfred here, particularly in the obsessive nature of the relationships and the way in which the script hints at something much darker occurring behind the scenes. The film is also strongly reminiscent of Secretary, notably in the way that Saint-Denis' repeated humiliation of Gabrielle only serves to intensify their relationship.

The Great
Chabrol creates an extraordinarily intense, frequently uncomfortable atmosphere that works brilliantly – indeed, the air is so thick with obsession and desire that you can practically taste it. That said, the abrupt climax, while suitably shocking and undeniably fitting, is vaguely unsatisfactory in a way you can't quite put your finger on.

Worth seeing?
In short, Chabrol's still got it – The Girl Cut In Two is an engaging, powerfully intense drama with outstanding performances from Sagnier and Berleand. Recommended.

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Content updated: 15/10/2018 22:43

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