Morality takes as many forms as there are cultures to manifest it. For some people, it is a question of commandments. For others it is a question of ideals. For other groups it is a question of economics, minutely calibrated cost-benefit analyses. But for all of these systems and all of these cultures, morality always boils down to a series of dichotomies : Should I do X or should I do Y? Simple binaries that make the world. Works such as Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813) and Bronte’s Wuthering Heights (1847) encourage us to see our relationships in similar terms. Do we want a love filled with the peaks and valleys of passion, or do we want a pleasingly mild existence, an emotional even keel?
Claude Chabrol’s 2007 film La Fille Coupee En Deux seems to attack this vision of human relations. We expect to have to make a trade-off in our personal lives, but what happens if both of our options are bad ones? Chabrol hints at an answer. An answer which, like Chabrol’s great films of the late 60s and early 70s, depends upon a viciously cynical vision of the class system that continues to corrupt French life. But is this vision perhaps too cynical for its own good?