Alain Corneau's absorbing Love Crime has all the trappings of a Hitchcockian thriller. Well, most of them anyway. Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas) is a ruthless business executive in the Paris office who exploits Isabelle (Ludivine Sagnier), her talented assistant, and takes credit for her ideas. Isabelle begins an affair with Philippe, Christine's lover, who's embezzled money to save his own business. The affair is fine with Christine -- until Isabelle back-doors her on a great idea, and the company decides not to offer Christine the New York office. Murder naturally ensues.
There's no music throughout most of Love Crimes to telegraph emotions, and in the early portions, before the murder, Corneau photographs it mostly in static or long shots, eschewing the jerky energy of a thriller, and giving it not so much a realistic feel as the feel of a play being filmed.
Love Crime is at once a jaundiced dissection of corporate ambition and a well-paced thriller that's finally more contrived and entertaining than it is slick or imaginative. But it's seductively nuanced -- expertly acted by the two female leads -- and it builds deftly to a chilly climax. In French, with subtitles. Starts Fri., Oct. 21. Harris