A Girl Cut in Two
Film review by: Witney Seibold
The members of this odd little love triangle: 1) Gabirelle (the lovely Ludivine Sagnier), a bubbly, flirty twentysomething weathergirl for a local TV station. 2) Charles Saint-Denis (François Berléand), a famous author, pushing sixty. 3) Paul (Benoît Magimel, hilariously stealing every one of his scenes), a bratty, beastly, callow, man-child, and heir to a pharmaceutical fortune.
Paul falls in love with Gabrielle at first sight, but frightens her off with his public outcries, and drunken proposals of marriage. Gabrielle has a more powerful attraction to the married Charles. Charles, no fool, decides to take her on as his mistress. He is worldly in the mind and in the sack, and they form a tight bond of carnality. Charles’ wife (Valeria Cavalli) seems not to know about the affair, although she and her husband seem to be living in a threesome situation with Charles’ publisher and apparent other mistress Capucine (Mathilda May, the naked space vampire chick from “Lifeforce,” and just as foxy as ever).
When Gabrielle is callously dumped by Charles (he’ll never leave his wife), she falls into the arms of the horrible Paul, who, in addition to his frequent whiny tantrums, has started waving a gun around. Eventually, the gun will be used for its intended purpose.
Claude Chabrol’s “A Girl Cut in Two” deals with sex, infidelity, emotional betrayal, and bedroom antics, and yet has no onscreen nudity (especially a surprise, given how much time the buxom Sagnier has spend nude in her career). It also has little violence, and almost no bad language. There is one fellatio scene, and it’s brief, tastefully handled, and, astonishingly, not gratuitous (a character’s oral sex skills give away her character). It an adult film that actually deals with adult themes rather than the prurience of simulated adult behavior. The pace is a bit slower than most high-octane American erotic thrillers, leading me to believe the film was intended not just for adults, but for mature people. Indeed, the poster boasts that it is a “film for adults.” And what a relief. Most R-rated American films are still geared toward the under-17 crowd. It’s nice to have a real erotic drama for grown-ups.
The story is a bit simple at times, and often the audience is a few steps ahead of the action, tempting a viewer to think it was meandering and beating about the bush. But, by speeding things up, “A Girl Cut in Two” would have betrayed its own maturity.
Evidently, the film is based on a real-life case of a young woman’s husband murdering her married ex-boyfriend. From what I have read, this new film version fudges the facts a bit, and, of course, amps up the drama.
Chabrol, who just turned 78, has directed over 65 films in his 50-year career. He is a skilled pro of the old school who, like Woody Allen, seems to have an irrepressible love for making film, whether he’s shooting for high art, or simply churning out another potboiler. “A Girl Cut in Two” leans closer to the latter than the former. But, as potboilers go, it is a very good one.