Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts
Starring: Ludivine Sagnier, Benoît Magimel, François Berleand, Mathilda May
Director: Claude Chabrol
This disappointing offering from former French New Wave master Claude Chabrol not only seems to suffer from genre confusion but lacks charm and charisma, despite its first rate cast.
Based on a true story, THE GIRL CUT IN TWO is the tale of young and naïve TV weathergirl Gabrielle Deneige (Ludivine Sagnier – 8 WOMEN, SWIMMING POOL) who finds herself caught between two men. The first, celebrated writer Charles Saint-Denis (Francois Berleand) has been a happily married man for 25 years. The other, Paul Gaudens (Benoit Magimel) is wealthy possessor of the Gaudens Laboratories fortune, but comes complete with a rather problematic schizophrenia. Gaudens is determined that Gabrielle will be his, whilst Gabrielle seems hypnotised by the pleasure-seeking Saint-Denis. Predictably (and it’s not giving too much away) what is presented as a slightly preposterous set up can only end in tears.
Sadly understanding Gabrielle’s attraction to either of these two men proves a leap too far. And trying to justify the decisions she makes without much apparent thought also offers up the wrong kind of challenge, since the rather plentiful dose of naivete she displays doesn’t seem much of an excuse. Portrayed as a ‘smart girl’, the clash with the naivete serves to make her behaviour totally cryptic. The charmless (and more icky than sexy) writer Saint-Denis does not appear as interesting as one hopes a book of his would be and it’s impossible to see how Gabrielle could even stand Gaudens, who’s especially prone to violent outbursts. Everyone also seems to be mysteriously in love with the very ordinary Gabrielle (perhaps they have been hypnotized by Gabrielle’s magician uncle), who even has all the honchos at the TV station slathering all over her (oddly without even the stench of jealousy from anywhere in an industry notorious for its claws).
Dull, unconvincing, pretentious even, and not helped by a lack of chemistry between Sagnier and Berleand, the only positive comes from Magimel’s watchable turn as unstable nutcase Paul. The film takes far too long to get anywhere, spending all its excitement in the last 20 minutes, which, by then is when you might have just arrived home to see what’s on TV instead.