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The Crime Is Mine movie review (2023)

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The Crime Is Mine movie review (2023)

“The Crime is Mine” marks a return to comedy for the prolific French director, who spent many of the last few years creating dramas like “Summer of 85” and “Frantz.” Reuniting with his “8 Women” star Huppert and the dynamic Tereszkiewicz and Marder, Ozon creates a fantasy world of gorgeous 1930s gowns, Art Deco luxury, and of course, a corrupt court and gullible public that’s thrown into a frenzy by Madeleine’s supposed crime. Ozon creates dizzying comedy out of a court that supposedly sides with the plight of women, when in reality their support is not always so. As part of Madeleine’s explanation of the crime and Pauline’s defense of it, they plead to the goodness of sisterhood and solidarity, arguing against the ways men have exploited them and kept them at the edge of losing their home and good names. The tactic works, but only to a point, because when Huppert’s Odette comes to collect her slice of the sisterhood, she threatens to expose Madeleine and Pauline as frauds. 

Ozon, who also wrote the film, whips up a frothy story of murder, romance, blackmail, girl power, and a little bit of old French film history. It’s an escapist sort of frivolity that delights in bad behavior, decadent costumes and lavish sets, like a farcical version of “Chicago” minus the musical numbers. Cinematographer Manuel Dacosse works within a palette of macaroons, from eye-catching pastels to delicious mauves and teals, under golden tones of light that evoke a sense of the romantic past between Ozon’s screwball comedy beats. Not all of it works; but even when something seems off, the movie never dawdles, springing back up to move on to the next scene. 

The trio of women who lead the movie do an impeccable job of keeping the energy silly yet vibrant. As the wide-eyed ingenue Madeleine, Tereszkiewicz registers innocence, yet is smart enough to outwit her enemies. Marder’s Pauline is even sharper, arguing her way out of everything from eviction to her client’s jail sentence. The pair share a “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”-like dynamic, with some longing glances that hint that perhaps Pauline is more into Madeleine than Madeleine is of Pauline. Madeleine’s main affection belongs to Andre (Édouard Sulpice), the most clueless character in the cast. She adores him despite it. Huppert, on the other hand, charges in as Odette in every scene like a villainous diva, a cross between Sarah Bernhardt and Norma Desmond. She bats every line like a spike into the ground, leaving the scene of each conflict like a lioness licking her lips after a satisfying kill. She gives the film new life just when it seems like everything could fall into place a tad too neatly. 

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