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A Girl Cut in Two

un film de Claude Chabrol

Claude Chabrol has always been one of the more misogynistic directors around (which is saying quite a lot considering the already inherent misogyny found all throughout cinematic history) so it should come as no surprise this story of a beautiful, extremely desirable young woman, played by the lolita-esque (though she is nearly thirty now) sexpot Ludivine Sagnier who falls madly, deeply and unabashedly in love with a man older than her own mother. Not to sound prudish - many younger women are attracted to older men and François Berléand's older novelist in the film is quite the charmer, if not a bit creepy as well - but let's face it, Chabrol's film is madly, deeply and unabashedly not much more than erotic wish-fulfillment with an artistic bent.

Now I am not necessarily bashing Chabrol or his film. After all, some of the greatest filmmakers of all-time could easily be called misogynists. Just look at Welles or Ford or Chabrol's old buddy JLG - and don't even get me started on Kurosawa. I am simply stating the obvious facts of the case, which is just what Chabrol has done as a filmmaker lo these many years. If Woody Allen can do it, why not Claude Chabrol?

Seriously though, Chabrol's little film (and being what I believe to be the weakest link in the Nouvelle Vague chain of cinema, they are mostly 'little' films) is actually the story of not just one man in young Gabrielle's (Sagnier) bed, but two - hence the title. The other being a man more her own age who just so happens to be a rich playboy with a seething hatred for Berléand's Charles. Yet, even with the young playboy (played with an abounding hammy joy all his own - a sort of modern day Belmondo - by Benoît Magimel) willing to give up his wild lifestyle to marry Gabrielle, it is (back to the old M word again) the older man she wants. It is the married man with no intentions on leaving his saintly wife that she wants. It is the older man who sexually humiliates Gabrielle whom she desires. It is this father figure (hers is apparently and obviously out of the picture) she needs. Misogynistic or not, rightfully so or not, what it all comes down to is the fact that Chabrol has made yet another enjoyable yet very fleeting little film. [09/19/08]

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