Sophie Renouf, Marketing Manager at Greenwich Picturehouse, previews this week’s presentation.
Directors: Arnaud Larrieu, Jean-Marie Larrieu.
Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Marion Duval, Maïwenn. France/Switzerland/Belgium 2014. 111 mins. French with English subtitles.
Love Is The Perfect Crime is a film like its title: partly brutal, partly melancholy and intentionally misleading.
We first meet our protagonist, creative writing lecturer Marc (Amalric), hurtling through the night in a haze of hedonism toward his chalet. He is accompanied by none other than one of his young students, Barbara (Duval). We see the pair wake up in bed together and we later learn that she is not the first of Marc’s students whom he has become involved with. In fact Marc, who is by turns earnest, romantic, eloquent and droll, seems to possess an indefinable magnetism to all the women he encounters.
The next we hear of Barbara she has gone missing – a fact that does not seem to concern Marc, until her stepmother Anna (Maïwenn) comes to the university in search of answers. But the pair feel an instant chemistry, and this is also the moment when the mystery of what happened to Barbara becomes increasingly, compellingly, perplexing.
The Larrieu brothers’ unpredictable thriller plays out against the sublime backdrop of the Swiss Alps and within the modern, ethereal setting of the University of Lausanne campus. The contrast between glass, ice and the warm wooden chalet that Marc calls home reflects the contradiction central to his character: sureness versus uncertainty. “Remember,” he tells his students as the formidable Alps loom behind him, “experience of a landscape is above all self-experience.” This background is a constant presence whose snow suggests purity yet provides concealment. The cinematography is full of glaring daylight reflecting off its whiteness – a light that reveals little.
Mathieu Amalric is fascinating as Marc, in turn playing down and exaggerating the contradictory elements of his character and quietly commanding each scene. The whole cast lend an apt coolness to the enigmatic dialogue, most noticeably Karin Viard as Marc’s sultry sister.
This is a subtly bizarre film, rife with strange ellipses and always kept just off kilter by the understated electronic score. Love Is The Perfect Crime is a mystery that reveals itself gradually, keeping you curious and steadily enraptured.
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