Ruthless exec, betrayed protege thriller

Office politics turns lethal in Love Crime, a dark, smart thriller in which a calculating corporate exec, played with icy cool by Kristin Scott Thomas, squares off against the young assistant she was mentoring - and from whom she shamelessly stole ideas. Ludivine Sagnier (Swimming Pool) is the eager apprentice who, feeling disillusioned and betrayed, turns on her boss. It doesn't help that both women are sleeping with the same man.

Channeling Alfred Hitchcock (and France's Hitch soul mate, Claude Chabrol), director Alain Corneau, a veteran of police procedurals and workplace dramas, skillfully plays out the scenarios of gamesmanship and humiliation, backstabbing and catfighting. (Corneau died in the summer of 2010, just weeks before the film - his last - premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.)

Like some murderous version of Working Girl, the ruthless exec and the seemingly naive underling go at one another - turning the film, at a pivotal moment, into a satisfying whodunit.

Love Crime, set in the sleek Paris headquarters of a global agribusiness concern - and in equally sleek quarters where Scott Thomas' character lives - is already in the remake pipeline. But it's hard to imagine Hollywood casting that can improve on the devilish turns delivered by Scott Thomas and Sagnier.

Contact movie critic Steven Rea

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Love Crime (Crime d'amour)

Directed by Alain Corneau. With Kristin Scott Thomas, Patrick Mille, Mike Powers, Guillaume Marquet, Ludivine Sagnier, Gérald Laroche. Distributed by IFC Films.

Running time: 1 hours, 46 minutes.

Parent's guide: Unrated ().