Chaos (2003/I)

Reviewed By Elaine Perrone
Posted 07/23/04 13:53:23

"Wicked and wild French twister."
5 stars (Awesome)

SCREENED AT SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2003: Chaos, a smart, edgy, stylishly executed comic-thriller from writer-director Coline Serreau, strapped me in from its first scene and kept me hanging on for the entire wild ride.

Rushing off to a dinner party, well-to-do 40-something couple Hélène and Paul (Catherine Frot, Vincent Lindon) are accosted by a young prostitute running down the street being chased by three pimps, yelling for her life. When Paul quickly locks all the car doors, Hélène can only look on in horror as the men beat the girl senseless and leave her in the street to die.

Saddled with her own dolt of a husband and her quickly-following-in-his-father's-footsteps son, who expect to be waited on hand and foot and in return treat the women in their lives like so much furniture, Hélène can't get the scene out of her head. Guilt-stricken, she tracks down the young woman, Noémie (Rachida Brakni), now unconscious in a hospital, and, dropping everything else in her life, devotes herself to the care of Noémie in her recuperation. When it soon becomes clear that the girl's life is still in danger, Hélène assigns herself as Noémie's protector from the men who continue to threaten her.

As Noémie recovers, she and Hélène develop a warm friendship, and Noémie, née Malika, reveals a life of exploitation at the hands of men, starting with her own father. The two women embark on an adventurous journey to right some wrongs and even some scores (think MUCH higher class Thelma & Louise), finding empowerment and release for themselves, as well as for two other women near and dear to their hearts.

As if a crisply written, sharply acted grabber of a picture weren't enough, Chaos benefits even more from a wonderful, jazzy score by Ludovic Navarre (St. Germain), with tunes featured in his album "Tourist," available on Blue Note Records

Happening upon Chaos at SIFF, it got that highest of accolades from me: I turned right around and screened it the next day, and loved it even more!

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