Despite shades of Hitchcock, the rich characterisation and moral ambiguities in Jacques Audiard's lean little number make it a distinct beast. The focus is a hearing-impaired clerical worker, Carla (Emmanuelle Devos), who's put upon by her grim male co-workers. Hiring an assistant, she picks tough ex-con Paul (Vincent Cassel), with a scam in mind - and the motives soon get all mangled.
It's the powerplay between these two, both outsiders with axes to grind, that shifts a meaty film noir into a taut thriller. What's more, the immersion in Carla's viewpoint elevates her above either mere victim or femme fatale. Smart stuff.