This 2001 award winning French film is offbeat and exhilarating. A middle-class Parisian couple, driving through the streets to a dinner party suddenly encounters a young prostitute being assaulted by three men. The young woman is bloodied and frightened and she runs to their car in a fit of terror. She gets no help from the couple, however, as the husband locks the door and is annoyed that his windshield is bloodied. The wife watches in horror as the young prostitute is further beaten.
The wife, Helene, played by Catherine Frot, is appalled at her insensitive husband and, the next day goes to the hospital to see if the young woman is still alive. She finds her alive, but barely - in a coma and paralyzed. She's so moved that she takes a leave from work and spends all her time in the hospital, tending the recovering woman through a long and arduous recovery. Rachinda Brakni, cast as Noemie, the prostitute, is a fine actress and absolutely captivating with her huge dark eyes and mop of curly hair. She invokes our sympathy completely, especially after the wicked pimps come to the hospital and try to kidnap her.
In the meantime there is trouble in Helene's household which plays out like a satirical comedy, as her husband and son seem to embody the very worst attributes of men. Helene is devoted to Noemie, however, and Noemie eventually recovers completely and shares her incredible story through flashbacks. During the next half of the film, the women plot revenge and eventually the bad guys get caught, the husband and son get their comeuppance and the ending is happy and satisfying.
The film is a fast paced and well-scripted view of the role of women. There's lots of brutality and bloodshed as well as a satirical look at our society. And even though the plot is extremely contrived, it was done so well that I was totally enraptured by it all. There's great storytelling, acting and directing and it doesn't drag for one minute. I absolutely loved it. Highly recommended.