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Clubbed to Death

A complete change of direction for helmer Yolande Zauberman, whose first feature film was the widely acclaimed "Me Ivan You Abraham," "Clubbed to Death" is a sophomore effort that confirms a director of distinctive talents, even if the film ultimately fails to breathe new life into its basically traditional triangular love story. Nonetheless, the trendy suburban Paris disco setting, the music and the lovelorn characters may well make this a must-see for European teen audiences.

With:
Lola Monnet ..... Elodie Bouchez Emir ..... Roschdy Zem Saida ..... Beatrice Dalle Ismael ..... Richard Courcet Paul ..... Gerald Thomassin Pierre ..... Luc Lavandier Mambo ..... Alex Descas Johanna ..... Julie Bataille

Dreamlike film opens with the fetching, 20-ish Lola (Elodie Bouchez) catching the last bus home after a night on the town. But when she falls asleep, she misses her stop and winds up at the terminus, on the far edge of the city, a vaguely threatening wasteland where she’s never been before.

She’s approached by a youth who suggests that, until the buses start again in the morning, she kill time at a nearby nightclub, generously slipping her a tab of Ecstasy to help her through the night. Most of the club patrons prove to be of Arab or African extraction. After one brief, presumably sexual, encounter with a stranger, the spaced-out Lola stumbles on the soulful Emir (Roschdy Zem), who has enough troubles of his own.

Emir, a former boxer, is a drug addict and, as a result, has become impotent, which naturally casts a pall over his relationship with Saida (Beatrice Dalle), a dancer who works at the club. Inevitably, he and Lola fall in love, and Emir attempts to rehabilitate himself, while Saida pouts jealously on the sidelines.

This rather trite story isn’t helped by the director’s decision not to provide any information about Lola, and Bouchez can make little of a character who’s a cipher. More successful are Zem as the fighter who seizes a new chance in life, and Dalle as the world-weary Saida.

The film’s great strength is the way it looks. Once again, cinematographer Denis Lenoir has created a rich texture, and the scenes in the club are particularly effective as the camera lurches among the frenetic dancers. Pic was shot in Portugal, but the run-down outer suburbs depicted here, with their graffiti-covered apartment buildings, could be found in any large city.

Music, including the title song, is used to pounding effect and should be a solid selling point for the pic’s target audience of youthful romantics.

Clubbed to Death

French

Production: A Madar Prods. production. Produced by Alain Massiot. Directed by Yolande Zauberman. Screenplay, Zauberman, Noemie Lvovsky.

Crew: Camera (color), Denis Lenoir; editor, Francois Gedigier; music, Philippe Cohen-Solal; production design, Olivier Radot; costumes, Pierre-Yves Gayraud; sound (Dolby stereo), Jean-Pierre Duret; assistant directors, Marie-Jeanne Pascal, Joao Cayate; casting, Pascal. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 16, 1997. Running time: 88 MIN.

With: Lola Monnet ..... Elodie Bouchez Emir ..... Roschdy Zem Saida ..... Beatrice Dalle Ismael ..... Richard Courcet Paul ..... Gerald Thomassin Pierre ..... Luc Lavandier Mambo ..... Alex Descas Johanna ..... Julie Bataille

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