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Directed by Directed by Julien Leclercq
Written by Written by Julien Leclercq, Franck Philippon
Starring Starring Albert Dupontel, Marie Guillard, Marthe Keller, Melanie Thierry
Produced by Produced by Jean-Philippe Blime, Franck Chorot
Chrysalis is one of those pieces that’s really, really difficult to write about because it pulls you in so many conflicting directions at once.
Chrysalis takes us to Paris, the not too distant future of 2020, where the world is ruled by new and impressive technological advances. One of the biggest is the advent of remote surgery, developed at a Parisian medical clinic. One of the developers of same was involved in a bad car wreck, and used her skills and technology to help save her daughter’s life. But part of the surgery involved damage to the hippocampus, and thus short-term memory was affected. Meanwhile, a Parisian cop is chasing a collar of a lifetime, but it turns out he’s connected to the aforementioned medical clinic. How does it all fit together? The answer is, I’m frankly not sure.
The thing you’ll need to remember about Chrysalis is that it’s FRENCH. The French, as we’ve seen from movies like Ils and Haute Tension (They and High Tension, for those of you what don’t parler) have a very singular style in that they’ll gladly sacrifice things like making sense and being possible for the sake of VISUAL IMPACT. In other words, the biggest thing for them seems to be about looking good.
And indeed, Chrysalis LOOKS awesome. It’s very clean. Very sharp, very orderly, very precise; almost like what you’d expect a medical clinic to look like. It is the razor’s edge of a scalpel. It has a sharp, stark beauty to it, like polished steel. The only problem is that Chrysalis has all the WARMTH of that same polished steel. It has all the heart and soul of that same scalpel. It has all the love of that medical clinic.
It’s easily one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen in a long time—even the fight choreography is beautifully done—but it’s almost unwatchable because it’s so spectacularly boring. The characters are almost interchangeable null ciphers, one to the next, so much so that it’s almost impossible to care about them.
And it’s sad, too—I was really looking forward to a sweet science fiction ride, and indeed, Chrysalis looked to provide, with shades of Blade Runner and Total Recall and just a really tiny hint of Bad Cop Bon Cop. Oh, it gave me all of that, sure enough…and it also gave me all the warmth of a slowly melting ice sculpture.
The ending is just a microcosm of the whole film, looking great and being totally useless.
The special features include a making-of featurette, French and English language tracks, English subtitles, and a trailer for Chrysalis, as well as some other trailers at the beginning of the movie, inaccessible from the DVD menu itself.
All in all, Chrysalis is a beautiful but unwatchable movie, filled with ice cold dignity and grace. It’s just too bad you can’t actually care about any of it.
Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.
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