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DVD Review



Starring: Albert Dupontel, Marthe Keller and Patrick Bauchau
Momentum Pictures
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 09 June 2008

Paris of the near future is a dangerous place, a fact that Police Officer David Hoffman understands having lost his partner and wife in pursuit of Dimitri Nicolov. Not only can criminal elements take life, accidents also take a terrible toll on Professor Burgen when her car, containing her and her child, is involved in a catastrophic accident. The two painful events would seem to be unconnected; however in Paris 2025 nothing is that simple...

Chrysalis (2007, 1 hr, 30 min) is the first full feature from writer-director Julien Leclercq, whose only previous work was the short Transit (2004).

Following the death of his wife Police Officer David Hoffman (Albert Dupontel) becomes introverted and morose spending his time obsessing about the man who killed her, Nicolov (Alain Figlarz). His chief gives him a new partner Marie (Marie Guillard) to help him solve the case, though Hoffman’s is initially suspicious of the rookie cop they soon bond.

In a parallel story Professor Brugan (Marthe Keller) is using a high tech machine to try and restore her daughter’s, Manon (Melanie Thierry), memories following an almost fatal crash. However, Manon is not content with being locked away in her mother's institute unable to leave or interact with anyone other than her mother and her nurse.

Obviously, the two disparate stories are connected and as Hoffman and his new partner track down Nicolov, the trail leads them inextricably towards Professor Brugan. The way the two stories come together is not the eye opening bombshell that you would hope to see as most of the audience will have worked out what was going on about half way through the film. In fact, the last quarter seems a little rushed and messy with the unnecessary inclusion of Marie’s uncle as the master manipulator.

Visually the film is very impressive with a gun metal pallet. From the initial shoot out, in which Hoffman’s wife Sarah (Smadi Wolfman) is killed, the film shows a stylish flourish, which will find favour with many of the audience. The fight scenes are brutal with choreography which keeps the action this side of believable. So, there is little to complain about the set pieces, the rest of the plot appears to be cobbled together from various sources and part of the fun can be spotting where the elements have been lifted from.

The film does have some problems with its plot. For instance, for no reason that is explained Hoffman spends his spare time seeing how long he can stay under water. One might think that his inability to save his wife when she was thrown into the canal prompted this strange behaviour until you realise that ending up in the drink was inconsequential compared to the knife in the guts and the broken neck. The scene appears to be there only to explain how he is able to hold his breath so long after he is attacked in his bathroom and dumped in the tub.

Those minor gripes aside the film was impressive for a debut feature and the director has squeezed every last drop of his budget and placed it on the screen.

The disc is presented in French 5.1 with burnt in English subtitles. For extras you get the original theatrical trailer (1 min, 15 sec) and a quite extensive making of documentary (25 min, 58 sec).

All in all it’s well worth a look if nothing else for its style and panache. With such a slick debut film I’m sure we will be hearing a lot more from Julien Leclercq in the future.


Charles Packer

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