Rare for a mysterious thriller set in the high stakes business realm, Love Crime (Crime d’Amour) is dominated by women with the men relegated to paltry supporting roles. Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas) is on the fast track to the elite tier of her international business firm as chief of their Paris office. She is confident, sexy, knows how to work the room, and has complete faith in her subordinate Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier). Not only is Christine a business mentor to Isabelle, she also assumes the role of life coach, close confidant, and in a few moments, possible temptress.
Isabelle is also on the fast track but is severely overshadowed by the extroverted Christine. She has original ideas which win the firm big clients but Christine will frequently claim those ideas as her own to help her case for promotion. Christine does not necessarily view this as the immoral thing to do. She is the boss and ideas flow to the top. Plus, any success merited to Christine will naturally help Isabelle’s career; however, Isabelle must never forget who is truly in charge.
While attempting to prove herself outside of Christine’s shadow, Isabelle sparks a feud between the two careerists with drastic consequences. So begins an intricate chess match of hints, allegations, innuendo, and dramatic backroom conversations. Christine attempts to squash her former protégé back into obscurity and Isabelle maneuvers to step into her own spotlight subverting her malicious boss.
If you have a weakness for ‘who dunnits’ or intricate true crime methodologies, then Love Crime is your guilty pleasure come true. However, if you have only passing interest in the above mentioned genre, then you can take or leave this film. The script is sharp, the acting is a pleasure to watch, and the intense, hushed French conversations will keep you immersed, but there is not much more to it.
Isabelle’s relationship with Christine reminded me a bit of the earlier Ludivine Sagnier role in Swimming Pool, but instead of Charlotte Rampling, this time you get a much more assertive Kristin Scott Thomas. There are also direct reminders of The Business of Strangers with Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles.
Sagnier redeems herself in this audience member’s eye from her disastrous work in The Devil’s Double. While that was a good film, her character and acting drastically impacted its plausibility. Plausibility is also a factor here in Love Crime. There are overreactions you would never see in reality but the intricate follow through in the malevolent details make up for a good portion of disbelief.