TIFF Review: Chrysalis (French Sci-Fi Film)
by Alex Billington
September 18, 2007
Chrysalis feels a lot like Equilibrium - a futuristic science fiction film about moral issues featuring some great hand-to-hand fight scenes. Directed by first-time French filmmaker Julien Leclercq, the film takes place in Paris in the year 2025 and follows Police Lieutenant David Hoffman (Albert Dupontel) on his search for a notorious smuggler. The plot eventually dives into the depths of murder and moral issues like altering ones mind and dreams in order to become someone else entirely. Leclercq exquisitely portrays a vivid futuristic world without a gigantic budget or shots of Paris with futuristic CGI alterations, and yet the look and feel of the film is certainly sci-fi.
The story itself, while for the most part confusing even up to the end, has a complicated structure that lends itself to an entertaining expose of drama and action sequences. The fights are cinematically shot well and thrilling, almost even at the level of The Bourne Identity, which is amazing for a first-time director. It's not the type of film you can completely phase out and yet enjoy, but it's also not something that requires 100% devotion - and that careful balance is why I liked it as much as I did. I'm a sucker for sci-fi in any form, and Chrysalis was a finely crafted and unique venture into a futuristic Paris. The lead character, David Hoffman, even reminded me quite a bit of Batô from the anime Ghost in the Shell, but without the cybertronics - just a desensitized and rigid cop who's been witnessing the worst of brutality for too many years.
Chrysalis seems more like a first example that shows what you're capable of before actually going out into the real world. I can tell Leclercq has real talent that he's just waiting to use, and although Chrysalis was a good film, it just didn't exude the excellence that I'm sure Leclercq is really capable of. If you're like me and have a soft spot for sci-fi, whether that means watching it in French with subtitles or not, then you'll want to see Chrysalis. It's unique and well-made enough to watch, just like when Equilibrium first hit, but it's nothing to call a masterpiece.
For more information on the film, visit the official website - www.chrysalis-lefilm.com.