Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Criminal Lovers

Les Amants criminels; Thriller, France/ Japan, 1999; D: François Ozon, S: Natacha Régnier, Jérémie Renier, Salim Kechiouche, Miki Manojlović

Teenage girl Alice strips her boyfriend Luc, puts a blindfold on him and then makes photos of his genitals. She makes out with him until she requests that he must kill the sports star of her high school: Said. Luc is at first unwilling to do any harm until she tells him that Said raped her. Alice seduces Said who is killed by Luc. They put his corpse in a car and rob a store, but get lost on their trip through the forest. They stumble upon a house and find food, but are then captured by a bearded psychopath who locks them out in his basement. The stranger nurtures Luc, baths him and hunts rabbits with him, in the end even sleeping with him. He also read their diary and knows about their crime. When Luc and Alice escape, they have intercourse in the forest. But then the police arrests Luc and the stranger, while Alice gets killed.

Bizarre-phantasmagorical thriller-drama "Criminal Lovers" is by far the strangest adaptation of the Grimm brothers fairy tale "Hansel and Gretel" - at first, the movie starts off as a pure 'femme fatale' crime story where an attractive girl manages to persuade her lover to kill a man, but in a twist of conventions, the criminal lovers get lost in a forest, find a house but are captured there by a mysterious stranger (Miki Manjolovic) who forces them to eat a lot. Stylistically and thematically, Francois Ozon's films differs a lot from the tale (after all, there are five erotic sequences to be found - one memorable plays out even in the forest), adding a crime subtext whereas the directing was done in a very suggestive manner, almost without music (in one great little scene, the camera observes the trees illuminated by the car lights), yet the film is still far away from an excellent grade. Natacha Regnier doesn't seem that attractive to truly believe she could manipulate someone into killing Said, though her acting is good, whereas the bigger flaws are a thin script, a weird ending, weak psychology and mild emotions.


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