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Chrysalis [DVD]
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VINE VOICEon 25 September 2009
20 years into the future the technology to remove & implant memories is discovered & an unscrupulous doctor looking to keep her badly injured daughter alive decides to misuse it. She is involved with a shady Russian gangster who earlier killed a policemans wife. The same policeman is now tracking the doctor and he and his rookie partner struggle to piece together what is happening.
With all sorts of references including 'Minority report', 'Blade runner' & 'I robot' this still manages to keep its own identity & style. In fact style is the key word as the director really has a flair for visually impressing. For instance a Hitchcock like tracking shot follows a character from room to room with one long take while she is shown in time lapse, a similar tracking shot follows an elevator as it ascends through a hospital and we see what happening on each floor as it travels upwards. The near black and white images are subtly laced with washed out blues, silver & yellow to give a sense of other worldliness and it works very well. The acting is of a standard that Hollywood is incapable of on such a tight budget.
There are some bone crunching scenes as policeman and villain go head to head but they seem to blend in seamlessly with the whole dream like atmosphere.
The ending is tight and avoids the usual cliches and neat finishing to leave a satisfying conclusion to a well executed story.
This could so easily have been another Z grade sci-fi straight to DVD effort but just about everything here has been planned and executed with precision and a delicate touch. As with all the best scifi the less dialogue the better and there is a real sense of comic book styling here as so many times the visuals are just left to say what needs to be said without a single line of dialogue.
Quite how the budget doesn't show is little short of miraculous as the sets and whole feel of the film are solid and believable.
There is a 25 minute 'making of' which alongside a trailer are your only extras. However it has to be said that this documentary is superb as it shows behind the scenes in depth and shows the director to have had a clear and determined vision of what he wanted and how he set about getting it.
The picture is mostly grey and white with a few very muted colours but it is pin sharp and extremely atmospheric. The sound is very well placed with some settee rumbling sub action throughout.
Don't let the subtitles put you off, there isn't much talking anyway, this is a very strong entry into the sci-fi catalogue and makes for a very enjoyable 90 minutes. Strong acting, fast pace, good plotting and a strong sense of its own identity easily make this much underrated release a winner that is well worth a watch.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 May 2017
Set in the near future this stylish French thriller is more crime drama than SF extravaganza as the police doggedly hunt for the criminals behind the abduction of young women in Paris, illegal immigrants highly vulnerable to exploitation. Coming across as a hybrid of Harry Callahan and Sam Spade the film’s protagonist is a damaged individual, a police lieutenant hell bent on revenge and uncompromisingly determined to bring to justice the man responsible for the murder of his wife and partner. However, as the narrative progresses a more sinister conspiracy is unearthed involving a state-of-the-art trauma hospital carrying out pioneering scientific research. Although there are a couple of impressive bone-crunching fist fights the action is minimal as the director confidently presents us with characters behaving in ways which are believable. In some ways the film reminded me of the under-rated 2002 movie Equilibrium with its stunning visuals (the lighting predominantly shades of gunmetal grey and cool icy blue) and futuristic technology with the CGI used sparingly but nonetheless effectively. A solid piece of work by a first-time director which merits at least one viewing.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERon 12 November 2014
The French have a real knack for near-future noir, and Chrysalis is a smart, stylish example of the genre. It’s presented with sufficient visual panache to overcome the few flaws in the plot, and features a couple of simply superb close-quarters, no-holds-barred fight scenes.

If you’ve become bored with the sight of two blokes simply thumping each other for half an hour – watch this. You’ll wince and flinch with the gripping, gouging and grunting as two evenly-matched opponents tussle for survival.
But the action sequences are just the icing on a clever cake, one which presents series of interwoven plot threads against a bruised, blue-black palette of Paris, someday soon. A chunk of military super-tech has been stolen (this is one of the weak point in the plot so don’t think about it too hard) by an agent turned rogue, who happens to have recently killed the hero’s wife. The tech can be used to create / destroy super-soldiers or special agents, by replacing their personal memories with artificially induced ones. One of the scientists now experimenting with this tech has a very personal reason for doing so…
Chrysalis uses this theme to explore the nature of memory and personality, with a couple of clever twists which serve to confuse / develop ideas about who is who. At one level it’s a straightforward police investigation, using underworld contacts to trace the missing tech. On another level it’s a debate about the nature of love and loss, about living with grief. Or not.
The director can’t resist some moments of grandiose filming, either: there’s a chase sequence through a warehouse which is absurdly complicated and captured in one long sweeping shot. Another scene shows future-tech surgery, beautifully rendered in virtual reality, which demands a near-perfect performance from the actress involved. The two male leads are likewise excellent; simmering kegs of barely-contained aggression. But the female cop, partnered with the hero to nudge his investigation along, is a lot less credible.

Overall, Chrysalis is imaginative, inventive and cleverly presented. It’s not outright action-adventure, but instead blurs the boundary between sci-fi and Eurocrime... which is fine by me. The French dialogue is subtitled in English, and the ‘making of’ documentary is interesting too.
8/10
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on 25 October 2010
Chrysalis is a half-decent watch with striking visuals but, sadly, a half-baked plot.

Almost monochrome in it's visual style (you'll never so many shades of grey), the film is relatively short in length at a little over 90 minutes duration. However, it feels far, far longer, such is the stretched-out plot which could have been told in the space of an hour. The story does make you think about the nature of 'the self' and how our memories make us the people we are. Nevertheless, the storyline is just a slightly different slant on a theme which has been done several times before, and to more interesting effect.

I'm no action movie buff, prefering a solid storyline to chases and fisticuffs. However, this film could've certainly done with a bit more in the way of excitement, as it's simply 'too' slow. To be fair, the first 20 minutes got me really involved, but thereafter, there were too many overly drawn-out sequences where virtually nothing happened, perhaps making-up for the lack of available plot and the studio's requirement to produce at least a 90 minute movie. In the end, I did'nt really care for the fate of any of the characters involved, as they were all pretty dull and one-dimensional. However, there's no denying that this is a well-crafted and good-looking movie, and clearly a lot of thought went into the impressive production design of its near-future (2020) settings.

Worth a watch then, if only for the film's impressive look and feel, but I won't be viewing this again for the foreseeable future.
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on 31 January 2014
I bought this film after hearing about the fight scenes. Firstly you have 2 separate stories that intertwine together as film progresses. Firstly you have our hero chasing the killer of his wife/partner and secondly you have the other story of a mum and daughter involved in a car crash and the mum wanting to save her daughter.

I will not say more about the story as i would give the story away.

Right now onto the reason why i bought this film, the fight scenes. Here there are two stand out fight scenes between the hero and the main bad guy, and they are well worth the price of the film alone. Her you will not get the typical high kicking flying moves that you see in most other films, here you get close quarter fighting, and as one reviewer has said, they are bone crunching and realistic. My favorite was the first which takes place in a bathroom, brilliant, that is the only word i can use for this scene alone.

The extras are a 25 minute making of documentary.

Well worth buying, sometimes these films are better than your typical big budget hollywood films.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 March 2011
It is funny how revered much French cinema is for producing films that are challenging and original yet many recent efforts seem wholly inspired by the big-budget, CGI -loaded films that Hollywood now seems happy to churn out. In comparison with their American counterparts, their reduced budget and resources are all to apparent but in many instances, the films are saved by an original and hard-hitting spin on things. Despite getting an "A" for effort, "Chrysalis" suffers in comparison with it's American counterparts but probably chooses as it's subject matter a less obvious topic.

This is very much in the same mould as any number of recent sci-fi efforts albeit it has the air of a superior BBC production as opposed a film where limitless millions of Euros have been thrown at the production. "Chrysalis" looks wonderful on the screen with the almost constant silver and blue sets and Albert Dupontel nicely portrays the moody hero of the piece. However, the slightly disturbing subject matter casts a dark shadow over the film which never seems sure of the direction it is heading in. In some parts, there are definate nods towards the likes of the "Matrix" series and the ridiculous and gratuitous choreographed action sequences only accentuate the comparison. For me, this is very much the downside of the film with some of the violence being unintentially funny. You could level this fault at a whole number of recent films though. It is not quite exciting enough for an action flick and the moody, atmospheric appearance of the film suggests more of a polished and sterile equivalent to the seedy, futuristic world of something like "Blade Runner." Had the director stuck with the darker, more science-related topic which centres around a laboratory experimenting with bringing people back from the dead, this would have been far more intriguing. As it stands, it is perfectly watchable and stands by it's own merits with a dependable lead actor. Anyone who enjoys the usual "blockbuster" fare and who is prepared to watch a film with sub-titles will enjoy it and I don't recall the dialogue being quite as bad as efforts from the US. In summary, not the most memorable French or science fiction film I've seen, but entertaining enough.
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on 25 October 2013
It's a good play on the Philip K Dick memory & identity story idea. Stylishly filmed in a very tight, mostly grey-blue palette & particularly modern French cinema style of fight sequencing (if that means anything to you), when it happens.

I enjoyed it without finding anything particularly fresh or inventive about it's story, but certainly, if you're after a decent well made, well scripted, well acted film I'd recommend it above a lot of others I've seen.

French - English subtitles.
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on 11 April 2016
I'm afraid this would not work in any of my DVD players, but I did get it to play in a friends DVD writer/player, but I'm not sure it was worth the effort for what comes down to a pretty standard detective story in french. I personally would not recommend it. something like Engrenages (Spiral) is much better.
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on 7 September 2014
in French and with subtitles. This film is one of my classics and I have eventually managed to order it today. As a film director and editor I find this has so many educational examples throughout the unravelling of the story which has a twist. Mind control isn't the first topic of sci-fi movies but this French one is tops and gets my vote. If you don't like subtitles then you won't be reading this will you? Der!*! x Jes
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on 20 July 2015
Subtitled so if you don't speak French or hate reading then this is not for you.
I thought this was really good. A film not made by Hollywood and all the better for it.
The ending is a bit obvious so -1 star for that, but I would recommend if you are looking for a sci-fi film and have seen everything else around.
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