Friday, February 20

Review: Girl Cut in Two (2007)

Claude Chabrol's La fille coupee en deux (The Girl Cut in Two) is a comedy on dichotomy (obviously).

Love splits a person in two, it seems to say: we become the loved and the unloved, the pursuer and the pursued; we become mad with love while at the same time thoughtfully detached. Love also forces us to be one or the other. Intersubjectivity, in all its layers and complexities, is personified in Gabrielle Aurore Deneige or Gabrielle Snow (Ludivine Sagnier), the weather girl torn between Charles Saint-Denis (Francois Berleand), the older and married intellectual, and the young, dashing but violently erratic Paul Gaudens (Benoit Magimel).

Roles reverse in typical fashion, the pursued becomes the pursuer, etc., until opposite ends seem to merge, a Comme Ci, Comme Ça platitude that is rather suddenly shattered by tragedy. Chabrol maintains a parable-like tone as he steadily follows the twists and turns of loyalties but he does manage to surprise with a gracefully surreal ending: Gabrielle looks us in the eye and challenges us to judge her. It's an unnerving scene. I've been invited in: I was laughing and she was the joke.

It's quite a long journey to a gun ex machina climax but the real pleasure of La fille coupee en deux is watching the elaborate song and dance of lovers when love tears them apart against a symphony of quick-witted musings, pompous tantrums and drunken confessions. 3/5

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