2008-09-26 / Columnists


'A Girl Cut In Two' - French Miss
Review By Robert Snyder

Lately, on both sides of the Atlantic, films are dealing with aging males sexually obsessed with girls three decades their junior.

From the United States, we have "Elegy," the Philip Roth novel-based soap, featuring a stellar performance by Ben Kingsley as a lecherous 70- something professor.

Out of France is "A Girl Cut in Two," a Claude Chabrol film also concerning a septuagenarian with his decaying hooks in a young chippy. Here, she's pretty TV weathergirl Gabrielle Deneige (Gabrielle Snow in English), played by Ludivine Sagnier, who made a big splash in 2003's "Swimming Pool."

The elder is Charles Saint-Denis (François Berléand), a happily married famous novelist and sometime sadist, interested in controlling Gabrielle without making much effort.

At odds with him over the girl is psycho playboy and pharmaceutical heir, Paul Gaubens (Benoit Magimel). We know he is a spoiled psychotic because he won't stop chewing his nails or tossing things away indiscriminately (including parking tickets and cocktails). And, he has an outburst of near rape when Garbrielle is not sexually accommodating on an early date.

The story loosely follows the infa- mous 1906 Stanford White murder, where the acclaimed architect was gunned down in public by his lover's jealous young millionaire husband.

While the sordid intrigue flows beneath the elegant surface of opulent homes and restaurants, Chabrol keeps the action a bit too tasteful. The pace slows to a crawl only to be interrupted by the final blast of the fatal bullet.

For those turned on by old men lusting for girls who could be their granddaughters, see the film from this side of the Atlantic. "Elegy" is better, and it's in English.

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