Combustible Celluloid
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With: Rachida Brakni, Catherine Frot, Vincent Lindon
Written by: Coline Serreau
Directed by: Coline Serreau
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 109
Date: 10/03/2001

Chaos (2001)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Girl Power

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Coline Serreau (best known for the original French Three Men and a Cradle) writes and directs this snappy, female revenge fantasy -- a less-hysterical Thelma and Louise. Forced onto the street by her family, Algerian-born prostitute Malika (Rachida Brakni) begins stealing money from her pimp in order to someday retire. One night, she's caught and makes a run for it. A white, bourgeois couple -- Paul (Vincent Lindon) and Hélène (Catherine Frot) -- in a car have a chance to help her, but instead they lock their doors. Later, Hélène visits Malika in the hospital and begins to return again and again, helping to care for her. The women eventually become friends and together manage to outwit all the men in their collective lives, including the selfish and neurotic Paul. Serreau makes fine use of digital video and crisp cutting to keep the story on its toes. But really, do all the men in the movie have to be this stupid and self-involved? The film even opens with a biting pair of scenes in which two grown men hide in bathrooms to avoid seeing their mothers.

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