In the past I’ve posted about the sense of ‘discovery’ that you can sometimes achieve when you stumble across a movie or television show that you really enjoy. That sense is enhanced somewhat when the discovery comes from outside your usual paradigm. I’m fortunate to be experiencing that sensation once again after having stumbled onto the French sci-fi flick, Chrysalis.
Fans of the Christian Bale movie Equilibrium will feel an immediate attraction to the texture of Chrysalis. However, this film is far grimmer than the 2002, Kurt Wimmer directed sci-fi thriller. And what’s really impressive is that Chrysalis is writer / director Julien Leclercq’s first feature length film.
The mysterious future-noir thriller centres around Police lieutenant David Hoffman in the aftermath of the death of his partner (and wife) at the hands of a vicious smuggler and all around dirt bag, Dimitri Nicolov. Hoffman recovers physically from his encounter with Nicolov, but is left full of rage and when he is presented with a case that offers him the opportunity to hunt the smuggler down, he throws himself into the investigation. Along the way Marie Becker, Hoffman’s new partner attempts to connect with him, however she finds herself more concerned with the politics behind her promotion to lieutenant and her paring with Hoffman.
From the very beginning of this film you’re caught off guard by the brutal action sequences, by the enveloping darkness of the cinematography, and by the agile and fluid nature of Leclercq’s direction — There’s a particularly rhythmic and mesmerising scene where the camera tracks an elevator up several floors. Somehow, visually Chrysalis manages to be gritty and clean at the same time.
Chrysalis’ plot isn’t the most complicated ever to have been put to film, but it is executed in such a way that you’re kept guessing enough of the time that the predictable moments are forgiven. In fact, when the two primary plot lines converge at the end of the film there’s a distinct “I should have seen that coming” moment (at least there was for me).
If Hoffman’s arc in this film is the action element, then Manon Brügen is the intrigue.
Manon is recovering from a traumatic and physically devastating car accident. Like Hoffman, her external scars have mostly healed. But despite Professor Brügen’s (Manon’s mother) access to advanced medical technology Manon is unable to recover her memories fully and is plagued by nightmares. Despite her frustration at being confined to the medical centre, Manon continues to undergo her mother’s treatments. Strangely, it is Clara, Manon’s Nurse, who seems most concerned for the girl’s well being.
Questions hover throughout the film, how are Manon and Hoffman connected? Who, if anyone, is on their respective sides?
In my mind chrysalis belongs on DVD shelves along side Equilibrium, the first Matrix movie, Night Watch and Dark City. This is by no means a brand new film, it was released in October of last year, but I’ve only just discovered it and felt compelled to share! [source]