La fille coupée en deux
Claude Chabrol :: France :: 2007 :: 1h55
Old, cynical and blasé writer shares his time between his urban extra-marital apartment life and his designer bunker in the countryside with his wife. He meets the young Gabrielle (Ludivine Sagnier), and introduces her into his debauched little circle of friends. After some -to us unknown- indulgence, he leaves her love-sick and broken hearted.
Gabrielle accepts the advances of Paul, an unstable extravagant bourgeois, to start a life together. Paul is so infatuated by Gabrielle, that he has little eye for her feelings towards him, perhaps imagining it will come by itself. He has been so used to getting what he wants, that the idea that his own desires being thwarted by the heart of another had eluded him. When the realisation comes around, that Gabrielle’s heart lingers on her lost love of a man she could not possess, Paul’s desperation rises to the breaking point.
The title of the work suggests that Gabrielle herself is caught between two fires, but that is a misrepresentation. Her allegiance is with the man who used her rather than with the man she married. His frustration is spawned by her inability to deal with her own past, a past which perhaps she should never have let happen. No tears have been spilt over the whole unfortunate course of events, but they should have – it may have led to some character development.
As it stands, Chabrol leaves us with a tedious sequence of events which may have held some interest (dealing-with-ones-amorous-past-theme), but for that he would have needed quite some help: a better script, more creative imagery, and a more involved director than himself to guide his otherwise capable cast.
In short, I would say there is not much added value with this production, even for die-hard Ludivine Sagnier fans. Unless you feel impressed by Chabrol’s capacity to pass on his character Paul’s deepest desire to the spectator: wishing it was just all over.