Despite an annoyingly dispensable subplot involving a parole officer and his missing wife, Jacques Audiard’s Read My Lips may be the finest thriller/romance hybrid of the new century. Carla (Emmanuelle Devos) is a partially deaf secretary detached – and who (via the removal of her hearing aid) willingly detaches herself from – the cruel social and professional world around her. Her quiet, stifling life, however, is disrupted by Paul (Vincent Cassel), a recently paroled thief she hires as her office assistant and who, in short order, embroils her in – and motivates her to undertake – criminal endeavors. The two form a symbiotic relationship in which Carla gains emotional and sexual liberation from her illegal exploits, and Paul finds a friend and a partner willing to help him rob a nightclub owner. Yet though it has elements of Rear Window – since Carla, who can read lips, is employed to spy on an apartment and decipher its residents’ conversations – Audiard’s character study never truly commits to a particular genre. The director’s beautifully composed close-ups and dreamy, soft-focus interludes (including Carla standing naked, and seemingly disembodied, in front of a mirror, as well as a final iris shot of embracing hands and interlocking mouths) impart a sense of perilous sensuality. But the stunning Read My Lips is ultimately about the unlikely, alluring pairing of the superbly menacing Cassel and (in a performance that nabbed Best Actress honors at that year’s Cannes festival) the wily, unpredictable Devos.