Claude Chabrol’s familiar critique of the bourgeoisie is dispiritingly lethargic and simple in A Girl Cut in Two, a rambling character study-cum-thriller in which Ludivine Sagnier’s TV weather woman bounces between an older, married writer (François Berléand) and a younger, spoiled rich kid (Benoît Magimel). An opening sequence in which red visual tinting and opera music are abruptly replaced by natural light and sound conveys the director’s aim for de-romanticized inquiry, but there’s almost no insight to be gleaned from the subsequent story other than that the wealthy are priggish snobs and intellectual artists are selfish pigs. Chabrol’s assured direction often hints at cataclysmic events to come, though their eventual arrival is cause for merely disinterested shrugs, given that the film’s commentary has long since been neutered by oh-so-broad characterizations, the worst of which involves Magimel’s stereotypically cold, prissy, intolerant mother. Sagnier’s affectionate moments with Berléand are A Girl Cut in Two’s high points, and far preferable to the faux-magic realism (at a magic show, as befitting the title) that concludes this ho-hum drama. Ultimately, however, the most notable thing about Chabrol’s latest is that the gorgeous but generally bland Sagnier consistently charms despite the fact that she remains, throughout, fully clothed.
(2007 New York Film Festival)