Two Halves


Ludivine Sagnier Torn Between Love in’A Girl Cut in Two’

Rising French actress Ludivine Sagnier (“Swimming Pool,” “Love Songs”), who was visibly pregnant, met with The Washington Diplomat in Manhattan to talk about her new movie, “A Girl Cut in Two,” directed by Claude Chabrol.

Asked about working with the legendary French New Wave auteur, Sagnier responded: “He’s always been on my A list. For French actors, Claude Chabrol is like going to the Louvre. It’s unavoidable. Of course, I was a big fan of his work. He’s a monument.”

In the film, Sagnier plays Gabrielle, a young TV weather girl torn between two very different men. When I asked if she had prepared for her role by watching any weather girl movies like “To Die For,” she admitted that she did watch the Nicole Kidman flick for inspiration, but it didn’t fit her character. “She’s much more voracious than I was. She’s the big bad wolf — whereas me, I’m the little lamb.”

In fact, Sagnier didn’t do much preparation for the part at all. “That’s why Chabrol might have hired me,” she mused. “The character requires honesty, instinct and rebounding. I have those qualities because I’m quite a positive person. It really doesn’t happen to me that often in cinema.”

Nevertheless, Gabrielle does have a complex nature. “There’s a dichotomy in every character, especially for Gabrielle. That’s why she’s cut in two — for her, between purity and perversity. There’s a dichotomy between her ambition and her ideals — and also this idea of her middle-class origins and upper-class pretense.”

Explaining why Gabrielle turned to the rich but unstable Paul, whom she doesn’t love, after being rejected by her older suitor Charles, Sagnier observed: “There’s also a dichotomy between sadism and masochism. When she goes to Paul, in a certain way, she’s been perverted, so maybe masochism is a part of her unconsciously.”

Sagnier added: “She’s a fighter. She wants to be taken in. She wants to believe that love can take you in a certain way.”

On the other hand, the actress also noted that Chabrol “didn’t want any tenderness between the characters. She leans on [Paul]. That’s the only reason why she married him. She has no tenderness toward him. She has no feeling.”

Sagnier reflected that this lack of love extended to the entire bourgeoisie depicted in the film. “When you see [Paul’s] mother-in-law who’s acclaimed for her charity commitment, whereas she’s not even able to love her own children, that’s part of the contempt Chabrol has for this [class],” she said. “I didn’t think I was upper-class enough to be part of his universe, but Gabrielle comes from a middle-class family, so it was OK fortunately.”

Sagnier also recently starred in “A Secret,” based on a true story about a French-Jewish family, which recently played locally at the Avalon Theatre. “It relates how a family secret completely poisons the rest of the generation. In the story, I’m mostly responsible for the poisoning,” Sagnier said — not that much unlike her current role as “A Girl Cut in Two.”

About the Author

Ky N. Nguyen is the film reviewer for The Washington Diplomat.