Criminal Lovers

Criminal Lovers

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Murder as an idea is distinct from murder as an act. Francois Ozon, who recently scored a hit with the Agatha Christie pastiche 8 Women, investigates this concept in a film that cleverly mixes youthful experimentation with sexual uncertainty.

He uses flashback as an integral part of the storytelling process, which can be annoying, but not in this case, because he refrains from adding a voice-over narrative, thus leaving the motive for the killing always in doubt.

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If you accept that teenage is a period of madness, what happens has chilling credibility. Alice (Natacha Regnier) enjoys the power she has over boys. Essentially a tease, she considers sexual conquest a victory, even if she doesn't go all the way. For reasons that are unclear, she decides to murder a classmate (Salim Kechiouche), with the help of Luc (Jeremie Renier), her naive boyfriend.

They drive miles into the country to bury the body, become lost amongst trees and are kidnapped by a man (Miki Manojlovic) who lives in the forest. Alice is locked in a space under the floor, while Luc is subjected to sexual abuse.

Although difficult to watch at times, the film contains a distinct energy that is both erotic and fearful. Alice appears to be the driving force, pushing Luc across a barrier he dare not contemplate, until it is too late, but slowly it seems that this is his rite-of-passage.

Sex as an idea is distinct from sex as an act. Luc discovers himself by being a part of horrific events. Alice loses her control and becomes his lover in the true sense.

Ozon is a filmmaker who dares to explore where others are afraid to tread. The results can be disturbing.

Reviewed on: 10 Jul 2003
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Teenage murderers are held prisoners by a cannibalistic hermit in the depths of a wood.
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Nicholas Dawson ****1/2

Director: Francois Ozon

Writer: Francois Ozon, Annabelle Perrichon, Marcia Romano

Starring: Natacha Regnier, Jeremie Renier, Miki Manojlovic, Salim Kechiouche

Year: 1999

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: France

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