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Games of Love and Chance (2003)

1 rating: -5.0
Comedy movie directed by Abdel Kechiche

A sensitive, daringly original and deeply human portrait of a group of teenagers living in the projects outside Paris and surviving in a world marginalized by society. Set during preparations for a school production, it captures their affections, quarrels … see full wiki

Director: Abdel Kechiche
Genre: Comedy
1 review about Games of Love and Chance (2003)

Stop the Shouting and Arguing

  • Aug 28, 2009
Games of Love and Chance is a well meaning, well intentioned, serious look at the plight of minority teenagers in France. But the good intentions are just ruined by one of the most annoying films I have seen in ages. From the first scene, its clear this film will be bad. Although the thoughts were in the right place, this is just a lousy film.

The movie opens with several teenage boys talking. They speak in ghetto French. The language is extremely strong, the translations are roughly accurate, maybe even a bit mild in English. They are talking about going to beat up some other guys. What starts off as a reasonable back and forth, quickly turns into yelling. They argue over and over and over about the same thing. They all yell at once. The camera darts back and forth between each boy, confusing the issue even more. Now this scene would have been fine, taken alone. The film calms down. The central character, Krimo, walks away. The camera follows him. He stands in front of an HLM (public housing in France), and calls for his girl friend. They meet on the stairway. They start arguing. She starts yelling and cussing at him. And we're off to the noise races again. The movie calms down for a few minutes, then we get more yelling and arguing at another location. This goes on for a full 2 hours with absolutely no reprieve.

In theory there is a parallel story between the lives of these teenagers and a classic play they are rehearsing in their French class. Its all about class distinction. Their teacher spends about 4 minutes in a deep intellectual heartfelt discourse on how people can put on the clothes of the other class, but they will always be seen as from the wrong class. It is a lame attempt at making this film seem intellectual in some way.

Frankly, after 20 minutes, I was exhausted watching this mess develop. I slogged through the full bitter 2 hours. The comparison between the play and their lives was done with such a heavy hand. I was grateful for the ending of this film.

Technically the film was shot documentary style, handheld camera, poorly recorded sound, poor lighting, frequently out of focus shots, and poor pacing. The actors are all young, and likely from the neighborhood. They actually played themselves rather well. I fault the director for being so in your face, with no concept of how to slow down or pace a film. The arguing about miniscule details over and over and over was just too much to support. The language was realistic.

Some may feel this is a necessary view into the boring life of children in what amounts to a ghetto. The mistreatment by the police. That this film preserves some form of their language. To some people opera singing is the most beautiful thing in the world, to others is is as bad as fingernails on a blackboard. From me, this movie was 2 hours of scratching the blackboard.

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