The Girl Cut in Two

Movies, Drama
The Girl Cut in Two

Based loosely on the 1906 Stanford White case, Claude Chabrol’s latest dissection of the discreet loathsomeness of the bourgeoisie focuses on Gabrielle Snow (Sagnier), a TV meteorologist. (If you’ve already managed to catch on that her name is a signifier for innocence and eventual fodder for beaucoup irony, we applaud your deductive powers.) Gabrielle’s the type of ripe young woman who turns heads whenever she enters a room, though two particular suitors have struck her fancy: an elderly novelist (Berléand) and the bratty heir (Magimel) to a family fortune. The older, married man possesses sophistication and formidable powers of seduction, while the younger scion’s most notable characteristics are his dashing appearance in a tailored pinstripe suit and his hair-trigger temper. The fact that this is a Chabrol movie means that murder, class warfare and a subversive social critique are only a few reels away.

The French director is in his comfort zone here, coolly flinging mud at the upper crust under the guise of a Hitchcockian thriller (nice Vertigo in-joke, Claude) that runs more smoothly than a well-tuned BMW. But even if you know that Chabrol views suspense films as just a mechanism for his benign misanthropy, you can’t shake the sense that he’s going through the motions. The pacing has a tendency to downshift from deliberate to meandering at crucial moments, and though the trio of actors is on point—especially Magimel, a master at smug menace—Chabrol’s digs feel frustratingly halfhearted.

By: David Fear

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Release details

Rated: R
Release date: Friday August 22 2008
Duration: 110 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Claude Chabrol
Cast: Ludivine Sagnier
François Berléand
Benoît Magimel