Reviewed by DAVID VINEYARD:         


LOVE CRIME. French; original title: Crime d’amour, 2010. Ludvine Siegneur, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patrick Mille, Guillame Marquet. Directed by Alain Corneau, also co-screenwriter with Natalie Carter.

   Love Crime may seem like a leisurely suspense film at the beginning, and granted it takes its time to establish the two main characters, but once it kicks into gear it is a fascinating character study with enough twists and turns to keep any fan of suspense films happy.

   Kristin Scott Thomas has a showy role as Christine, a ruthless bisexual female executive who becomes mentor to the rather mousy Isabelle (Ludvine Siegneur). The sexual tension between them is obvious, and Siegneur, while shy, is not all that reluctant to be seduced. It becomes obvious this won’t end well early on.

   Siegneur seems to slowly blossom under Thomas’s guidance, until things go south when Thomas sends Siegneur to Cairo on an important business trip. Siegneur seduces Thomas’s lover (Phillipe Mille), and pulls off a triumphant business coup that is certain to insure her quick movement up the corporate ladder.

   Then Thomas takes all the credit for Siegneur’s coup.

   A relentless no holds barred competition begins between the two women, played out in the boardroom and the bedroom. Blackmail, humiliation, and extortion all play a role in the game between them until Siegneur finds herself publicly humiliated by Thomas and firmly under her thumb again.


   Aided unwittingly by her Iago, her assistant Daniel (Marquet in a perfectly under played performance), Siegneur begins a ruthless plan of revenge, but it seems more mad than anything else. Humiliated, she spins out of control into uppers and downers and what becomes increasingly obviously a plan to murder Thomas and doing her best to frame herself.

   When she does murder Thomas, she even draws the first three letters of her name in Thomas’s blood. She is arrested and the police all too easily follow her self-incriminating trail. Still heavily drugged, Siegneur confesses. The film seems to be over, having driven itself into a wall.

   I can’t say much more about the plot without giving too much away, but all is carefully unraveled as Siegneur’s true/false trail by turns leads the police in unsuspected directions. One by one as each pawn falls and each part of Siegneur’s plan is revealed, this worm-turns tale slowly reveals just how much the viewer as well as everyone else has been played by Siegneur from the beginning. She gives new definition to the term passive-aggressive.


   Love Crime is handsomely shot in beautiful color and on sleek modern sets, and moves at such a deliberate pace you may not recognize this is the model of classic film noir, with two femme fatale’s in a cat and mouse game that mid-film turns into a Simenon psychological suspense story with enough twists for Agatha Christie.

   It won’t be until the very last scene and the very last moment you realize how well you have been played, and how important that deliberation was to the final outcome of this clever film. Despite the two female leads don’t mistake this for a “woman’s” picture on Joan Crawford lines. This film is as hard and unsentimental a film as you will ever see.

   The cast is uniformly good, but it is Siegneur and Thomas who carry the film and without either character ever becoming a really sympathetic character. Both have obvious personality problems and possibly borderline personality disorders. At one point in the film you will be convinced Siegneur is mentally unbalanced, a sociopath with an unhealthy obsession with Thomas. It’s not until the end you even begin to suspect the truth.


   If you stay with this film you will find at the end you enjoyed it much more than you thought, and may even want to watch it again, to see if you can catch the places you were played, mislead, and bamboozled by the intelligent script. This film has the courage to ask you to stick with it, and rewards that effort with a final moment that will leave you frostbitten.

   Love Crime was remade by Brian de Palma as Passion in 2012 with Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace. Despite that cast and a co-script by the screenwriter Natalie Carter, skip it and see the original, Corneau’s last film and a worthy one.