“A Girl Cut in Two”
IFC Releasing
At the Michigan Theater

Courtesy of IFC

0.5 out of 5 Stars

Mass media often stereotype obscure foreign films as impenetrable, sub-pornographic Showtime fodder that only teenage boys watch when Spice Network is blacked-out. Remember the dirty foreign flick about incestuous cousins that George Michael fawned over in TV’s “Arrested Development”? Well, “A Girl Cut in Two” is the woeful actualization of that kind of material. Except it’s not funny in the least. It’s a miserable film that portrays a ridiculous, contrived dilemma as if it were a universal experience.

It’s the kind of preposterous, cold and ugly film that only the most masochistic and scornful people will enjoy. It’s a film for sadists; it’s relentlessly life-sucking.

Gabrielle Snow (Ludivine Sagnier, “Swimming Pool”) is an attractive, young and intelligent French weatherwoman. She’s tired of being referred to as a child and not being taken seriously. There’s something funny beneath her restrained demeanor, but it’s impossible to pinpoint just what makes her tick in this completely superficial film.

Gabrielle attempts to stimulate herself by predatorily courting the mature, sadistic author Mr. Charles Saint-Denis (François Berléand, “Transporter 2”). He’s worldly and passionate and perfect for Gabrielle. And he’s a stuffy bastard.

But while Gabrielle tries to woo the literary pervert statesmen, a talentless, childish heir desperately tries to win her affection. That aspiring suitor is Mr. Paul André Claude Gaudens (Benoît Magimel). He bites his fingers, wears garish outfits and is envious of Gabrielle’s fawning for Saint-Denis.

Awkward sexual proclivities, like hinted sadomasochism, define Gabrielle and Charles’s relationship. To pique Gabrielle, Charles dresses her in costumes and berates her for her various failings. And he forces her to sleep with other men in his presence.

Paul isn’t better behaved. Nervous that she might be thinking of Charles, Paul aims a gun at Gabrielle as she gives him a blow job.

“Girl” is meant to be an ironic dramedy about a poor young woman’s struggle to find happiness. But it’s merely another love triangle piece, burdened with three truly self-centered people. Characters may seem to have deep, revealing attributes that are aimed at adult emotions. But in the end, they provide only restrained shock value and bitterness.

Not only are the characters bad people, but they’re in a poor film. “Girl” is handled in an emotionless and tactless manner, and though it intends to be suave, subtle and engaging, it achieves none of its goals. It’s the cinematic equivalent of an inescapable mausoleum.

Like a bad parody of pretentious foreign films, “Girl” finally gives mercy when it flames out in a big, pompous, worthless metaphorical conclusion.

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