One in the middle for Claude Chabrol, La Fille Coupee En Deux is nowhere near the heights of his greatest films but is a damn sight better than some of his less notable hack work.
Ludivine Sagnier stars as a TV weatherwoman who falls for famous but married older man Francois Berleand. Unfortunately, after a whirlwind romance and an introduction to kinky sex, he decides that he cant leave his wife, giving our heroine no choice but to end the relationship. Alas, she foolishly takes up with obnoxious trust fund baby Benoit Magimel, only to find that hes obsessed with her past love to the point of madness. This naturally sets the scene for a tragedy, one that will leave the protagonist all but destroyed.
At first, the film seems on autopilot, with the Bazinian realism cranked up all the way to banal and the familiar jabs at the bourgeoisie little more than limp bashing. Further, Magimel is a little too obviously creepy (and too comically decked out in bad suits), making him an unlikely choice for the apparently level-headed Sagnier. But once the big event of the script happens, the film is surprisingly affecting as the creeps family closes ranks and pressures our heroine into making a wrong decision.
Though La Fille Coupee En Deux almost exactly copies Richard Fleischers film of the Evelyn Nesbit case, The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, it packs a punch that movie doesnt have, and while I cant say that Ill ever think about it ever again its still somehow a cut above a mere time killer in terms of how it works on an audience.
You could do a lot worse than this; if only it didnt seem a dry run for a much better movie. (Christal)