Ludivine Sagnier entered the American public consciousness with Swimming Pool. Then she took us through a musical threesome in Love Songs.  Now she plays an innocent weather-girl caught in the middle of love and money in A Girl Cut in Two. This is a story about a naïve girl that falls for an older man, an author named Charles Saint-Denis (François Berléand).  However, after the man that she believes to be the love of her life breaks down her innocence, their relationship ends very badly.  Lost in a fog of confusion, she goes back to a young and demented heir to a pharmaceutical company, Paul Gaudens, (Benoît Magimel) she had been courting earlier, little knowing the descent into madness that step will take.

A Girl has been advertised as a dark comedy, and there are some comedic moments, but on a whole this movie is more powerful in the insanity of it all, rather than the dry wit contained in some of the zingers the characters throw at each other.  One thing that I really liked was the performances by the lead actors in this film. The pacing might have been slightly off, and the jokes occasionally missed, but the actors were on top of their game. Magimel’s portrayal as Gaudens, a young millionaire (who was also a mentally disturbed mama’s boy), was spectacular.  There were little tics he had, like covering his mouth, that really brought his character to life. So when he spoke of his jealousy, I could really feel it. Sagnier also did remarkably well, from her early wide-eyed performance in the scene when she met Saint-Denis, to her calculated decision to take on her previously rebuffed young man; her character arc is the biggest in the film.  The director does a good job making her the focus since it is pretty hard to like any of the other male leads. But in order to regain the viewer’s trust, she loses her naiveté and starts to fight for her own rights, which begins the climax of the story.

If there was one big thing wrong with A Girl, it was that the film’s pacing was a bit too meandering at times. In fact, it was pretty slow, even for a dialogue-driven film. And the film also used a technique where the viewer would know what’s happening, but one of the characters didn’t.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it brought interaction between the film and the audience, but it was a little frustrating because it took some of the edge off the film’s few comedic moments.

A Girl Cut In Two is a good flick. I’d give it a pretty strong recommendation for some change-of-pace viewing or if you are in the mood for a slightly comedic thriller.

3 / 5 stars

Adding to the often hollow words exchanged by the two main characters, were the bad ensemble cast. This is very heavily an ensemble film, and the sequels will be even more so, so I was devastated to see the Cullens (Rosalie, Emmett, Alice, Jasper, Carlisle, and Esme) exceed my expectations as individuals, but never quite mesh as a group.

At best the interactions between them were wooden, not something you expect from a family who have been together for decades. To make matters worse, their pale face makeup looked fairly ridiculous (when the film introduces Carlisle, at many angles he actually appears GREEN!), Jasper as a wide-eyed newly turned vampire winds up looking more like a zombie for the majority of the film.

Along with the makeup the special effects were downright atrocious; again they did what they could with the budget they had I expect. Most times when Edward is running or climbing, you can practically see the wires and harness, there is little fluidity of movement – with the exception of one scene in which Bella drops an apple and Edward pops it up with his foot.  The action sequences are far overdone; I suspect this was an attempt to fill in what they couldn’t afford to do with high end effects, with overacted movements, which left me thinking B-movie.  Finally, the numerous instances where speech was dubbed in over unmoving lips or lips were moving but no sound, was extremely unsettling – I don’t know much about film or sound editing, so it has to be bad if I caught it.

Overall, I was pleased to watch an on screen adaptation of a story I’ve come to love, but my greatest hope is that this will simply act as the stepping stone to a big budget production on the next installment.

3 ½ / 5 stars

As a fully invested fangirl, I couldn’t help but have mixed emotions when I heard they were making a Twilight movie. The unique quality of these books is that they draw you in so completely that as I have read them, I’ve gone through the motions of love and heartbreak emotionally, and that is an effect no movie can truly give no matter the quality.

Setting aside my caution, I finally dragged myself to the theatre on a bitterly cold weekend, in order to (hopefully) warm up with to this “chick flick”.  Being somewhat biased in favor of the story I desperately want to give this film high marks, but the best I can give is – they did exceptionally well on such a tight budget.

From the start, the character of Bella Swan is self-sacrificing, packing up and moving herself from Phoenix, AZ to the small town of  Forks, Washington to live with her dad, Charlie, so that her mother can start fresh with her new husband.  Bella and her father prove to be essentially strangers living in the same house; their relationship is consistently well-acted and dead-on with the portrayal in the book. Charlie is the endearingly awkward backwoods dad, unsure of how to handle a teenage daughter, and often feigning gruffness when he cares deeply for her.

As someone uniquely qualified (I grew up near Forks in Port Angeles – the town where they go prom-dress-shopping in the movie) to assess the environment, they did an unbelievable job of capturing the area right down to the wooden carved bears and log trucks, and the endless long shots of northwestern beauty is one of the highest points of the film. Bella’s first day at the High School had me doing a double take, wondering if that was the actual Forks High School. From her first day in school, Bella meets the usual characters – the popular kids Mike and Jessica, the overachieving, slightly geeky Eric and Angela, and finally the mysterious Cullen family.