A Girl Cut in Two

Movies Reviews Claude Chabrol
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A Girl Cut in Two

Release Date: August 15 (limited)

Director: Claude Chabrol

Writer: Claude Chabrol, Cécile Maistre

Cinematographer: Eduardo Serra

Starring: Ludivine Sagnier, Benoît Magimel, François Bayrou

Studio/Run Time: IFC Films, 115 mins.

Despite the wide variance in his films, a common fallacy about Woody Allen movies is that they are all the same.They will feature an older experienced artist who meets a younger woman that, for some unexplained reason, falls in love with him.Along the way the movie will comment pithily on art and life and the impossibility of love against a beautiful backdrop filmed by a notable cinematographer, but the whole thing will be ultimately vacuous.Fortunately for Allen, with a few possible exceptions, this formula is a pretty wild misconception.

Claude Chabrol, however, seems to agree with this facile analysis in his fairly blatant homage to Allen—even going through the effort of name-checking the American director in case his audience fails to notice the similarities.In A Girl Cut in Two, François Bayrou plays the artist figure Charles Saint-Denis, a wildly successful author who vies with his younger rival Paul André Claude Gaudens (Benoît Magimel) for the love of Scarlett Johansson stand-in Gabrielle Aurore Deneige (Ludivine Sagnier).The notable cinematographer is Eduardo Serra (Blood Diamond) and, yes, the observations on art, life and love are occasionally clever.

Unfortunately, fitting in with the pantheon of second-tier Allen films (or perhaps third) is the best this film accomplishes.The characters within Girl are just that, with no reality to them.Gabrielle’s love is completely random and unexplained, as is Paul’s.This isn’t to say that they’re evincing that love is always capricious, but instead that it feels like Chabrol suddenly decided to turn on a switch in their heads.Paul and Charles’ rivalry seems ripe for a fascinating reveal, but this possible subplot instead remains unaddressed, leaving every one of the main characters without any form of motivation.Rather than the work of an accomplished director with more than 30 features under his belt, the frankly baffling writing makes the whole thing feel like it was based on the unedited draft of a first time screenwriter.

Unsure of where it wants to go, Girl features an unnecessary denouement that falls flat, a tone that fluctuates between dark comedy and outright drama and a ham-fistedly symbolic ending that underscores an overall contempt for its audience.Chabrol was never as groundbreaking formally as his peers, but usually his films can be counted on for a craftsmen-like level of polish.Here, though, even that falters.Frankly, Woody Allen would’ve been ashamed to release one of his films to theaters in this sort of shape.