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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

A Girl Cut in Two (review)

It’s billed as a “Hitchcockian thriller,” but frankly I see nothing either Hitchcockian nor thrilling this same-old Gallic tale of an older man, the younger woman who adores him for no apparent reason (even as he insults her and treats her like a child), and the other, younger man who wants her and might possibly maybe do something violent to get her. If there’s satire in filmmaker Claude Chabrol’s tedious romantic roundrobin — did I mention that the old man, a writer (François Berléand), is married, and so has at least one other woman on his mind? did I mention that the younger man (Benoît Magimel) has a dodgy history his with people he supposedly might be expected to love? — I can’t see it. Is it supposed to be satirical that the girl (Ludivine Sagnier) has nothing to recommend her but dewey youth, uncomplicated beauty, and a tendency to mope to a suicidal degree when her heart gets broken by a man decades older than her? (Not that that’s actually something to recommend her, except perhaps in the fantasies of men like almost 80-year-old Chabrol.) That looks like a helluva lot like other damn story of the younger woman/older man dynamic we’ve ever seen.

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