A Girl Cut in Two

Rated 4.0

Director Claude Chabrol, a founding father of the French New Wave, here writing with his stepdaughter and assistant director Cécile Maistre, stages a calmly glossy, diabolically sophisticated takedown of predatory bourgeois entitlement. This requires an unfortunate love triangle between a naive provincial TV weathergirl (Ludivine Sagnier) and her two competing corruptors: a prosperous, self-satisfied, married author (François Berléand); and a bratty, unbalanced trust-fund playboy (Benoît Magimel). The true-life, tabloid-ready precedent for A Girl Cut in Two involved the eminent 19th-century New York architect Stanford White, his mistress and her husband (and became an American movie, The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, in 1955), but to say any more about that would risk spoiling this movie’s plot. Not that plot is everything; Chabrol knows how a good thriller can depend just as much on magnetic performances and an acidly satirical tone.