Love Crime was completed in 2010 but took a year to reach US cinemas and it was over two years before UK audiences had a chance to watch it. It’s a little difficult to understand why, as there seems to be no reason why this clever, twisty thriller couldn’t gain an audience.
Set in the world of corporate high flyers, Love Crime follows the relationship between Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas) an icy executive, perfectly poised and in control of all her interactions, and Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier), her naÃ¯ve, slightly obsessive compulsive protÃ©gÃ©.
It’s clear that Isabelle hero worships Christine, is perhaps even in love with her. It’s also clear that Christine is well aware of this and more than happy to use it her advantage “ as is the case when Isabelle comes up with a deal-clinching idea. Christine brazenly takes the credit to their superiors, right in front of Isabelle’s face, and then explains that she’s giving Isabelle a practical demonstration of how to succeed in the world of business.
Christine is ultra-manipulative and Scott Thomas plays her brilliantly. It’s impossible to identify what when she’s displaying genuine emotion and when she’s simply putting on a faÃ§ade to twist peoples’ behaviour to her will. With Isabelle however, it seems like things are much clearer. She thinks she has a genuine relationship with Christine and is cruelly stung when she is betrayed. But she has hidden depths too. Before long, she is embarking on an affair with Christine’s husband, keeping her own secrets, and looking thoughtfully at kitchen knives when Christine’s humiliation of her goes a step too far. Perhaps Christine has picked the wrong woman to toy with.
The unknowability of the characters’ thoughts and feelings is initially a frustration as we find it hard to understand their actions. But as the film develops it becomes a strength “ it’s genuinely intriguing to try to puzzle out why the characters are acting the way they are, and to see the pieces fall into place. The only problem is that in the final act, they slot into position a touch too neatly and everything is presented to the audience tied up with a bow on top. But prior to this it’s a clever, nasty little thriller where you are never sure who you are rooting for or exactly what the final outcome will be “ both lead actresses do a great job of muddying the moral waters with their performances.
Brian De Palma has recently re-made Love Crime as Passion. At the time of writing it hasn’t got a confirmed release date. It will be interesting to see if it can match Love Crime‘s low-key charms.