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The Girl Cut In Two
cast: Ludivine Sagnier, Francois Berleand, Benoit Magimel, and Mathilda May

director: Claude Chabrol

110 minutes (15) 2007
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Artificial Eye DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by J.C. Hartley
So, the French still make films about physically attractive people and their despicable lives and ghastly habits?

Charles Saint-Denis is a best-selling novelist in his late fifties with a beautiful wife he describes as a saint. While promoting his book on TV, he spots pretty weathergirl Gabrielle, and meets her again later at a signing at her mother's bookshop. Paul, heir to a pharmaceutical fortune, visits the shop to parade his unexplained antipathy for Charles, and also falls for Gabrielle. Gabrielle falls for the older man who rebuffs her after their first sexual encounter. Regretting his actions, which he believes he did to protect her, Charles summons Gabrielle and they begin an affair. Gabrielle wants Charles to leave his wife. It is never clear, although there is a strong hint, whether Dona Saint-Denis is aware of and condones her husband's adventures. Charles takes Gabrielle to the exclusive club where he and his ghastly friends, including his agent Capucine, indulge their mutual sexual appetites.

After this Charles goes abroad dumping Gabrielle who slips into a decline. Paul is encouraged by Gabrielle's mother, and whisks the girl abroad where, after a row, she accepts his proposal of marriage. On the honeymoon Paul is unable to accept Gabrielle's sexual history with Charles. At a fundraiser organised by Paul's mother where Charles is a guest of honour, Paul shoots the novelist saying he has killed the beast who depraved his wife. In order to reduce Paul's sentence, Gabrielle must confirm that her husband was unable to bear the knowledge of the sexual shenanigans that Charles enjoyed, she does this and is immediately cut adrift by Paul and his family. She ends up as the glamorous assistant in her Uncle's conjuring act being cut in two on stage. She seems to be happy.

The Girl Cut In Two

Attractive people can be ugly. Paul is a dandy who may have drowned his elder sibling in the bath, and was able to avoid punishment in his teens when some underage girls were abducted by his unruly friends. He was abused by his private tutor as a child. We never find out why he hates Charles. Charles was abused by the priests at his seminary; he despises Paul for escaping punishment through his social status. Charles used to be plain Charles Denis. Capucine seems like Charles' pimp as much as his agent. Charles's wife changes the locks on his flat in town when Charles goes away, thus denying Gabrielle access; this suggests she is party to his affairs. Gabrielle's mother says she always knew Gabrielle would find a 'father'. The Girl Cut In Two (aka: La fille coupée en deux) is apparently a comedy. The French, huh!

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