Directed by: François Ozon
Written by: François Ozon
Starring: Nadia Tereszkiewicz, Rebecca Marder, Isabelle Huppert, Fabrice Luchini, Dany Boon, André Dussollier
Released: October 12, 2023
Grade: B-

The Crime is Mine

Writer-director François Ozon (8 Women) talks about this latest film as paying “tribute to the wittiness of American screwball comedies from the 1930s.”  It’s an apt description.  The Crime is Mine is an off-the-rails French comedy that becomes more outlandish with each scene.  Actors deliberately overplay their respective characters, and goofy plot twists are used at any opportunity.

Also set in the 1930s, it’s centred on a struggling actress, Madeleine (Tereszkiewicz), who has been accused of murdering a renowned film/theatre producer and stealing 300,000 francs.  She’s innocent of the crime but, in teaming up with her conniving lawyer housemate (Marder), she pleads guilty and goes to a full public trial.

Her rationale is both risky and brilliant.  She will take the witness stand, lie about what happened, proclaim it was self-defence, and be then exonerated by a sympathetic jury.  Given the notoriety of the deceased producer, the trial will receive front page news across France.  If you can connect the dots, this will then provide Madeleine with her own fame which she can use to kickstart a long, successful career on the stage.  She’s got nothing to lose… well, except her freedom.  It’s reminiscent of what Roxie Hart was trying to do in the Broadway musical Chicago.

As assortment of supporting characters have a part to play with well-known actors Dany Boon (Welcome to the Sticks), Fabrice Luchini (Women on the 6th Floor), and Isabelle Huppert (Elle) chiming in with their distinctive roles.  The cast are enjoying themselves and, to an extent, their zaniness is imparted on the audience.  I only wish the script was tighter.  Several scenes drag on too long (like the courtroom stuff) but that said, the film finishes on a high.  The best material is saved for the final act which wraps up the narrative in a fun, twisting way.

If looking for a new comedy which pays homage to old ones, The Crime is Mine fits the bill.