A Girl Cut in Two (La Fille Coupée en Deux) Review
By David Kempler
A Cut Below
French film director, Claude Chabrol, is considered by many to be a master of mystery cinema and is sometimes credited with founding the "nouvelle vague" French film movement. No, I never heard of the movement either. His latest release is "A Girl Cut in Two (La Fille Coupée en Deux)" which, strictly speaking, isn't a mystery. I suppose it would best be described as a bird's eye view of wealthy people in France hopping from bed to bed and the results of their indiscretions.
François Berléand stars as Charles Saint-Denis, a very successful novelist and semi-recluse. He is married and lives in a posh house, far from the maddening bustle of civilization which he claims to detest. For the most part he does indeed find it beneath him. Charles has just finished his latest book and it is time for the necessary evil of promoting it on television and attending book signings. It is during this promotional tour that he first catches a glimpse of Gabrielle Aurore Deneige (Ludivine Sagnier), a very lovely and very young local TV weather girl. Of course they fall into each other's arms.
At the same time, Paul André Claude Gaudens (Benoît Magimel), of the fabulously wealthy Gaudens society family, saunters in and also falls for Ms. Sagnier. He is a spoiled twenty-something brat who doesn't work, choosing instead to live off his mother's vast cash reserve. He chases her with an almost insane, bordering on psychotic, fervor. Despite the apparent overmatch between her and her two suitors she mostly holds her own with them, at least for a while, primarily through the employment of witty bon mots.
Affairs of the heart transpire. At this point, "A Girl Cut in Two" becomes a European soap opera, albeit a fairly high-class one. Nevertheless, from this point forward, the story feels forced and contains a few over the top scenes that were a bit boring and almost unintentionally comical. I mean that in the worst possible way.
Whenever I see a story like this in a foreign film, especially from France, I can't help but wonder how it could ever translate into an American production. The truth is it can't. Our films usually draw very clear lines of distinction between good and bad people, especially in regards to sex. Hopefully, no American producers will think it absolutely brilliant to bring this story to our shores because, as mundane as the French version is, an American production would have to go through such an enormous rewrite to where it would be unintentionally comical from start to finish.