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Chrysalis (DVD)

Submitted by on March 31, 2009 – 9:25 PMNo Comment
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Chrysalis is a crime thriller set in Paris in 2020. It was released in French theaters in 2007 but just now made it to American DVD audiences this March. A gritty, noir film, it tells the story of renegade police officer David Hoffman whose partner/lover is brutally murdered in front of him, whiletrying to apprehend criminal Dimitri Nicolov.  Though Hoffman soon receives a new female partner who operates by the book, his career is on the line and his personal life is shattered. Determined to track down Nicolov and make him pay, Hoffman’s investigation leads him to the disappearance of two women and a high-tech surgeon who is doing more than performing heart surgery long distance. Hoffman soon becomes a  pawn of the doctor’s futuristic medical schemes and sees a very different future for himself.

The cast consists of all French actors who are not well know to American audiences. Albert Dupontel, who plays Hoffman, is an established French actor, appearing in several films each year since the late 80s. Marie Guillard, who plays his new partner, is also very well known among French cinema fans. Melanie Thierry, who plays the mad doctor’s daughter, appeared in Babylon AD last year. The only familiar face to American viewers is Patrick Bauchau, who has been in many TV shows, including House, Numb3rs, CSI NY, The Pretender, Earth 2, Alias, Dead Zone, and HBO’s Carnivale.  He was also in big screen flicks such as Ray and Panic Room. But, Bauchau’s role in this film is very minor.

Though the director, Julien Leclercq, has only a horror short to his credit, he was able to produce a very convincing hard-boiled detective film. His choice of blue-tinted filters, even in daylight, contributed to the noir feel and helped drive the gritty action. For all of you fight fans, there were several brutal hand-to-hand scenes that were realistic, but seemed to go on forever. I kept wondering how anyone could have survived the first couple of punches, much less keep going.

I found the storyline to be very interesting. At once, it was typical of many gritty, urban cop dramas, dealing with a cop who wouldn’t toe the line. But there were unique differences, the fact that Hoffman was having an affair with his partner was different, even though the brass (no matter which side of the Atlantic brass are on) still disapproved of it. Yet, this was no fling; Hoffman was committed to her. In addition, the medical story thread was also very intriguing and one that fit the futuristic setting. And finally, the ending was something more than I expected, having a Bladerunner type of feel.

This DVD offered three ways to view the film. One was in French as it was originally aired. The other was the choice of English overdubbing or English subtitles. I tried watching the overdubbing but it was distracting, so I went to the English subtitles and restarted the film. I found the cadence of the French language helped move the film along, and after a while I wasn’t even aware I was reading subtitles because the action was so intense.

If you’re looking for something different, check out Chrysalis.

Beer Pairing: Shiner Bohemian Black Lager,
a hearty almost black brew with a complex flavor.