Love Crime, directed by Alain Corneau has opened today in Los Angeles at Laemmle’s Royal theatre, in West LA ; Playhouse 7, in Pasadena and Town Center 5, in Encino.
LOVE CRIME is a remorseless tale of extreme office politics, played brilliantly by Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier. Isabelle (Sagnier) is the young ingénue assistant, while Christine (Scott Thomas) is the older woman, a senior executive in a multinational company doing deals around the world. At first they are friendly. Christine, the able executive, is happy to pass the grunt work along to the up-and-coming Isabelle as she learns the ropes. But when Christine starts to take credit for Isabelle’s ideas, and a fellow worker bee begins to fuel Isabelle’s growing doubts about Christine’s duplicitous “all-for-one” attitude, the ground is prepared for all-out war. And all-out war certainly ensues. LOVE CRIME is complex, mischievous, surprising and ultimately devastating look on the corporate world, a last magical effort from one of the world’s most loved directors.
Here are a few sections of an interview with Alain Corneau about Love Crime:
Q: How long had you been considering LOVE CRIME?
Alain Corneau: I have had the basic idea in mind a long time. It is one of what I have fun calling “my little Fritz Lang labyrinths” and it can be summed up very simply: after you have committed the perfect crime, of which you will definitely be suspected, how can you prove you are innocent by making yourself look guilty?! It’s a crazy idea, which I thought about a long time before finding a way to develop it. I even talked it over regularly with screenwriters, who all gave up trying. I had to find a way to bring it to life. A breakthrough happened the day I thought the motive of the crime could be humiliation. Humiliation is a strong motive; it can lead to the most irrational behavior. At that moment, I had the idea of creating two stories rolled into one: the humiliating confrontation that leads to the crime, and flowing out of that confrontation, the way in which the criminal proves he is innocent. All that was left, basically, was to develop the form. So I wrote a first draft of the script with a focus on setting up the overall structure.
Q: There is something very ambiguous in the relationship between their characters that you never try to resolve.
AC: You mean, “Is it a real physical love relationship or not?” [Laughs.] We don’t know. We didn’t want to know. In any case, there is trouble and seduction going on. But I don’t have the real answer, even if I do think it is platonic love, though a very violent sort. That was actually one of the exciting things about the film when I started to talk about form with Yves Angelo [Director of Photography]. We said we were going to do a very severe film, with a certain intensity, with few shots and minimal material, that would not try to be wildly original filmmaking, but that would be continually ambiguous about the characters. Of course Christine manipulates Isabelle, she is delighted to have her to boss around and put down if needed, but she has two or three facial expressions – which Kristin does very, very well – when she sees Isabelle is slipping from her grasp, that are heavy, more than just suggestive. She almost looks lost, hurt. And it is not just egotism or pride anymore. For Isabelle, Christine is certainly a mentor, she teaches her how to live, but if the humiliation is so strong and painful it is because she is terribly heartbroken. Also, outside of getting revenge, she commits the crime to become Christine, to push her fascination obsession to its limit. What I like so much about actors, and in this specific case, actresses, is that through their discoveries, inventions, gestures, behavior and expressions that we hadn’t anticipated, they are able to express feelings, sensations and emotions that we can’t explain rationally.