Love Is The Perfect Crime (L’amour est un crime parfait) is a captivating thriller set in the picturesque mountains between Switzerland and France. Following the disappearance of one of his students, Barbara, immediately after a night of passion between the two, university professor Marc (the enigmatic Mathieu Amalric, from The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, Quantum Solace, Munich) is haunted by the mystery of her absence as well as the constant presence of her terrified mother Anna (Maïwenn), with whom he falls deeply in love.
This latest effort by French brothers Arnaud and Jean-Marie Larrieu is stunning visually as well as script-wise, the audience forced to care for Marc and feel sympathy for the situations he finds himself in. It boasts some really incredible cinematography, the mountain setting allowing for vast and sweeping shots of wilderness, adding to the sense of isolation that Marc feels as he starts to gradually lose his mind. The movie opens with a smooth and somewhat disturbing scene of a car driving up the winding mountain roads covered in snow, accompanied by the eerie melodies of Caravaggio. This sinister tone continues throughout the entire film, perfectly suiting the cold colours and disturbing feel of the film.
We are treated to an absolutely captivating performance by Amalric, the troubled and passionate character plagued by the mystery of Barbara’s disappearance and the implications of his involvement with Anna. Add to this a traumatic upbringing, the death of his parents and an ongoing sexual relationship with his sister, with whom he lives, and you’re left with a vivid picture of this tortured soul. The audience too experiences his terror and confusion, the gaps in his memory reflected by the holes in the story we see.
Betrayal interrupts the very real love that Marc and Anna share, the couple merely finding themselves in an unfortunate set of circumstances, and the film really couldn’t end in a more poetic or tragically fitting way.
We were lucky enough to catch Mathieu Amalric at TIFF, who answered some questions about the film. When asked about how they manage to put humour in such a dark film, Amalric replied, “The Larrieu brothers have their own angle from which to look at the world, in a way which is very hedonistic. Anything that’s very serious or scandalous can be looked at or expressed in a very natural way, and that produces unique humour in a way. In this film there is a relationship between the main character and his sister, which is very serious, but the Larrieu brothers express it as something very gentle, and there is some humour to it.”
Amalric also remarked on the dark, film noir feeling of the production, saying, “Yes this is a very black film, film noir, maybe more black than other films by the Larrieu brothers. Maybe it’s because the music by Caravaggio made it more dark, but also the humour I mentioned before was due to the sense of humour of the actresses who are enjoying playing these roles, like Karin Viard. Also the script is very, very well written. All of the words are very well kept, and there’s no room for improvisation. It’s very important for the actors to remember all of their lines and say them without hesitation.”
As for the prevalent mountain settings in the Larrieu brothers films, Amalric commented, “They grew up near the mountains, and their grandfather was a nature filmmaker, shooting animals in the mountains. So the brothers were often helping their grandfather film the bears in the mountains, and that’s how they learned to make movies. This film is based on the novel by Philippe Djian, and actually there are some sequences that aren’t in the original book. For example during the lecture the character says, ‘Try to depict your mother using the landscape, rather than portraying their emotions, use the landscape.’ These are the parts that are added afterwards, it’s not in the original novel.”
The second film in this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival to boast a doppelgänger theme, Mari Asato’s Bilocation fails to stand up to the might of Ayoade’s contribution, The Double. Both films deal with a second version of the protagonist randomly appearing and infiltrating their lives, but where The Double is sleek and offers subtle undertones of philosophical commentary, Bilocation opts to tread the more obvious horror route, with doppelgängers appearing all over, attacking and killing at will.
Bilocation begins with a promising opening scene, an eerie European church where we’re introduced to the idea of a supernatural doppelgänger, which is beautifully shot and suitable spooky. It goes downhill once we’re brought to the apartment of the main character. Shinobu is an antisocial artist, until she gets married, when her painting takes a backseat. She starts to hear of her lookalike appearing around town at which point she’s apprehended by a secret club of people experiencing the same phenomenon and gather together for support. Their doppelgängers, called bilocations, are born from different conflicting emotions in each of them, and seem hell-bent on taking the things they each love most. Shinobu has to decide what is more important to her, her painting or her husband, as this is what her twin will try to take from her. After the majority of the group members are killed by their bilocations, Shinobu discovers her double at the ceremony for the prestigious art prize she had been coveting for years, and must face the question: who is the real bilocation?
This film attempts to intrigue viewers with an intricate storyline, but gets clumsily tangled up in its own mess of dull character threads and predictable background stories, none of which are in themselves interesting. Unoriginal dialogue coupled with the most obvious finale twist possible makes for a cheesy and underwhelming horror film. One redeeming feature is that by the end almost everyone is dead, including the insufferable main character.