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(Check out Chris Reed’s movie review of The Crime is Mine. The film is in theaters in NYC now via Music Box Films. Seen it? Join the conversation with HtN on our Letterboxd Page.)

French director François Ozon (Peter von Kant) has long explored issues pertaining to sexuality (straight, gay, and beyond) and female agency in a diverse array of films, some heavily dramatic, some playful. His latest, The Crime Is Mine (or “Mon crime,” in French), is of the latter variety, a delightful romp of a period piece in which murder is setup for a punchline and women get the better of men. With a script full of wit and performances bursting with panache, the movie is a joy from start to finish.

The year is 1935, the place, Paris. Aspiring actress Madeleine (Nadia Tereszkiewicz, Babysitter) struggles to find work to pay her half of the rent on the apartment she shares with best friend, and lawyer, Pauline (Rebecca Marder, Simone: Woman of the Century). But there are some things she will most definitely not do, including trading sex for money or roles. So when a big-time theatrical impresario makes a pass, she storms off.

Unfortunately, the future looks bleak for Madeleine and Pauline, given that their landlord is overdue for the past 5 months and Madeleine’s ostensibly rich boyfriend, André (Édouard Sulpice), is in danger of being cut off by his father. What could go worse? Try the shooting of the aforementioned impresario.

What follows is a madcap ride through over-the-top judicial shenanigans that lead to the most unexpected results, all in the name of rousing burlesque and engaging mystery. To top it off, just when we think the film has reached its narrative peak, in waltzes the magnificent Isabelle Huppert (Happy End), propelling the story to new heights. The fun apparently never stops.

One recurring motif of this cinematic farce is the constant cutting to daydreams, fantasies, and reenactments all staged within a 4:3 black-and-white frame within the frame, the movie of everyone’s imagination playing as exaggerated artifice. Emotions rise, nearing comic hysteria, as plot point tumbles after plot point. Yes, someone was killed, but who cares? He (it seems) deserved it. In any case, the whodunit is more of the “will they get away it?” variety. And we certainly hope they will.

Sometimes the whimsy may be a tad much, as is its wont. But with a cast as game as this, any such reservations don’t last long. Joining the aforementioned are folks such as Danny Boon (Family Is Family), André Dussollier (Black Box), and Fabrice Luchini (The Mystery of Henri Pick), all screen veterans who give it their all. When everyone is having such a good time, it proves infectious. This virus is worth catching, though, so laugh away.

– Christopher Llewellyn Reed (@ChrisReedFilm)

Music Box Films; François Ozon ; The Crime is Mine movie review

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Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator. A member of both the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, he is: lead film critic at Hammer to Nail; editor at Film Festival Today; formerly the host of the award-winning Reel Talk with Christopher Llewellyn Reed, from Dragon Digital Media; and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice. In addition, he is one of the founders and former cohosts of The Fog of Truth, a podcast devoted to documentary cinema.

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