All you need to know about Claude Chabrol’s new film is in its title, though a more apropos one might have been Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. Chabrol opens the curtains on a one-dimensional world where little boys and girls are reared using handbooks and wine is considered the nectar of the gods, though the director’s mounting indifference means that it’s hard to tell if he still cares to give the finger to the monstrous upper-crust environs in his films or if he wants to be part of them. Gabrielle (Ludivine Sagnier), a TV weather girl with men raining all around her, is similarly conflicted, though her romantic crisis is not resolved as a prickly foil to bourgeois complacency. To Chabrol, she is something close to an inanimate object, tossed back and forth between Charles Saint-Denis (François Berléand), an accomplished novelist twice her age, and Paul Gaudens (Benoît Magimel), a child of fortune whose nail-biting points to personal demons. It’s easy to latch on to the rationale Gabrielle’s mother gives for her daughter’s devotion to Charles—she’s looking for a father!—because there appears to be no other. Confusing Charles’s sex for love, she becomes enraged when he doesn’t come back for more, at which point she marries Paul, whose violence against Charles late in the film isn’t so much waged on behalf of Gabrielle as it is in deference to a skeleton that falls out of his closet. One of those Chabrol productions perched awkwardly between thriller and comedy, A Girl Cut in Two is almost documentary-like in its examination of bourgeois rituals of wining and dining and modes of self-preservation, but its intriguing bits of psychological observation are not engineered into a particularly sensible or pulsating whole. Paling next to Raúl Ruiz’s nutty Chabrolian parody That Day, the film is only as artful, amusing and thoughtful as the last Woody Allen picture.
- IFC Films
- 115 min
- Claude Chabrol
- Claude Chabrol, Cécile Maistre
- Ludivine Sagnier, Benoît Magimel, François Berléand, Mathilda May, Caroline Silhol, Marie Bunel, Valeria Cavalli, Etienne Chicot, Thomas Chabrol, Jean-Marie Winling, Didier Bénureau, Edouard Baer, Clémence Bretécher, Charley Fouquet
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: