The future is further on. Rules change, technology advances, machines mess with your head. For filmmakers, CGI beckons. The possibilities are endless, as are the opportunities to overindulge.

Chrysalis doesn’t cheat so much as keep the audience baffled until the denouement when everything fits into place – well, almost everything. This technique is very much the thriller style of the moment. Don’t feed the prisoners (us); keep them awake and hungry.

Copy picture

The period is futuristic without being Robot City. There isn’t enough money for Spielbergian special effects and so the film has a claustrophobic studio look, as dark as nightmares, as if daylight belongs somewhere else, in early Will Smith movies, perhaps.

David Hoffman (Albert Dupontel) is a cop, working for The European Police. After his partner is killed in a failed attempt to arrest Nicolov (Alain Figlarz), a notorious serial killer, he suffers a massive depression. The man is gloomy, anyway, but now he’s angry with the world, his bosses and a system that allows vicious murderers free expression. When Marie (Marie Guillard), the new partner assigned to him, reports for duty, he’s too upset to notice she’s the most attractive girl on the squad.

An alternative plot, involving a German doctor (Marthe Keller), working in Paris on a memory machine (Chrysalis), and her teenage daughter Manon (Melanie Thierry), who is badly injured in a car crash, runs simultaneously and appears, at least at the start, to have no connection with Hoffman’s vendetta against Nicolov.

The sci-fi element is with Chrysalis, implying the spectre of mind control, with all its political ramifications. The thriller element is with Hoffman and his obsessive hunt for Nicolov. The human element is with Marie and Manon, searching for a place in this cruel new world.

The sci-fi suggests more than it delivers. The thriller becomes gratuitously violent. The human is unsentimental and important, because without it, the film would be another tale of alienation.

Dupontel’s performance is one-dimensional. Guillard has integrity. Thierry conveys teenage confusion by overusing her best asset, her smile. If the film fails to connect the dots, it is never less than intriguing.

Someone should tell the DoP that darkness is not always synonymous with fear. Occasionally it’s bad for the eyes.

Reviewed on: 08 Jul 2008
Share this with others on...
Chrysalis packshot
Futuristic French thriller erases memories and fights a serial killer.
Amazon link

Director: Julien Leclercq

Writer: Julien Leclercq, Nicolas Peufaillit, Franck Philippon, Aude Py

Starring: Albert Dupontel, Marie Guillard, Marthe Keller, Mélanie Thierry, Claude Perron, Alain Figlarz, Smadi Wolfman, Patrick Bauchau, Guy Lecluyse, Cyril Lecomte, Francis Renaud

Year: 2007

Runtime: 94 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France


Sci-Fi 2008

Search database: