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Movie Review

Love Crime

Lack of thrills in this corporate thriller is a crime

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By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / October 7, 2011

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We’re supposed to know Ludivine Sagnier isn’t just her regular pert blond self in “Love Crime’’ because not only is she wearing pencil skirts and designer pumps, she now wears glasses. It’s a look that’s meant to say, “I’m not just extremely attractive. I also keep long hours at a corporate job.’’ That bit of costuming speaks to the shallowness afoot.

When Sagnier’s character, Isabelle, finds herself ascending the Paris branch of an agribusiness multinational, she’s surprised that her boss, Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas), is a little beside herself with rage. Isabelle claims she’s been content making Christine look good.

Eventually, Christine takes credit for Isabelle’s ideas and the 2,000-euro Chanel gloves come off. But it’s confusing. Christine has already sniffed Isabelle’s neck, given her an expensive scarf (which Isabelle covets), told her she loves her, and sent her own husband on a business trip with Isabelle (it takes two scenes for the room service trays to be wiped from the bed onto the floor). She uses a surveillance camera to humiliate Isabelle in front of the rest of the company.

This is a ridiculous movie - a thriller so indifferent to suspense, so above mystery that one character literally stabs another in the front. It’s even harder to watch in light of the care and craftsmanship put into the weekly legal affairs between Glenn Close and Rose Byrne on “Damages.’’ Ordinarily, I could laugh with a movie like “Love Crime,’’ but the director Alain Corneau, who wrote “Love Crime’’ with Natalie Carter, isn’t laughing. Which means when something’s funny - like whenever anyone from the multinational’s American office says anything at all - we’re laughing at this movie.

Corneau actually wants to tell a tale of women in corporate power, but all he asks of Sagnier and Thomas is to look sexy, shocked, or confused. He’s cast two women who can do all three simultaneously. Thomas actually looks ready to eat the entire movie, even the scenes she isn’t in. She does so much imperious lounging around her manse that you wonder whether the point is that executives do nothing or that Corneau can think of nothing for his executives to do.

Indeed, there’s so much here that gives so many characters pause that it’s as if no one at this company really knows anything about corporations. Is hiring a subcontractor ever as brilliant an idea as it is in this movie? Maybe when Sagnier does it, which is sad since it means no one expected much of her to begin with.

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @wesley_morris.

LOVE CRIME Directed by: Alain Corneau

Written by: Corneau and Natalie Carter

Starring: Ludivine Sagnier, Patrick Mille, and Kristin Scott Thomas

At: Kendall Square

Running time: 104 minutes

In French, with English subtitles

Unrated (sex, nudity, killing, looking at large files)

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