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Do you know the feeling when during a movie, you check your watch because you wonder how long the movie would be? You don't check because you are bored, but because you feel like so much has happened that you must be nearing the end. And yet, it's only an hour. And by the time the movie ends, you feel even further away from where you started. Chaos is such a movie, with no less than 4 parts which are equally fascinating and well developed. It's 4 movies in one. Coline Serreau manages to pack so much material, so much story in about 110 minutes, and it's all amazing.
Because the story is so complex, it is hard to summarize. A bourgeois couple, with a conscience-less and detached husband, and a repressed and enslaved wife, on their way to a social dinner, witness a prostitute being beaten to death in the street. When the girl crashes on their car, the husband locks the door and drives away to a car-wash to clean the blood off the car. The next day, the wife, full of remorse for having done nothing, decides to find out if the prostitute is still alive and where she is. She ends up finding the hospital where the prostitute ended up and decides to stay at her side until she recovers. A strong bond emerges between the 2 women. As the story evolves, we understand that the prostitute has a whole story to herself too, and that her pimp is still after her for reasons that become clearer as the film goes on. Noemie is actually a very smart woman who got herself involved in complex dealings. What follows is a great thriller with twists and turns. In the end, the 2 women decide to take revenge on their tormentors and plot a coup to rid them of their problems.
Often described as a French "Thelma And Louise", this movie has indeed a strong feminist bent, and most men in the story are real garbage. But, besides this slight exageration, the movie is ultimately optimistic. Where "Thelma and Louise" failed in my opinion by focusing on women who became as bad as their male tormentors, violent, on a self-destructive path, on a vengeful quest, "Chaos" succeeds in showing a genuine friendship developing between 2 women, who display cunning smarts to get to what they want. The end result is extremely satisfying and optimistic. Serreau manages to mix wry comedic elements, with some graphic violence, and smart twists an turns in what turns ends up being an international finance thriller.
The movie itself is technically very good too. The story and the writing are exceptional. The performances are first rate. The movie is also hand-held, shot in DV, and this gives, at the right times, a feel ot realism that fits the story very well. But it also gives the cinematography a strange look at times that i am not too fond of. This is more than compensated by several shots that are beautiful and one wouldn't think could have been captured by a DV camera.
A complex story, with deep, smart and multi-dimentional characters, performed admirably, all put together expertly create an exceptional movie that is a real treat. This is the best French movies have to offer these days.
- Laurent Hasson