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Games of Love and Chance (Unrated)

Release Date: August 31st, 2005 (NYC-IFC Center) by New Yorker Films.
The Cast: Osman Elkharraz, Sara Fosterier, Sabrina Ouazani, Aurelie Ganito
Directed by Abdel Kechiche.
In French with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: Krimo (Elkharraz), a shy and lonely teenager, bribes his way into acting in a play opposite Lydia (Fosterier), a beautiful and outgoing girl.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The script is very beautifully-written simply because it is a very acute observation of the way teenagers really talk and behave. This is not the kind of movie where the lead character has a universal, exaggerated goal to change the world. Instead, all Krimo wants to have a date with Lydia. Given his shyness and poor acting skills in the rehearsals play, it is clearly difficult for him to impress her. It is quite funny how reserved he is even when he has the chance to develop his friendship with her. What really makes this film work besides the script is the impressive acting skills of each teenage actor, especially Sara Fosterier as Lydia. Osman Elkharraz is very convincing job of gradually turning Krimo into a more confident and outgoing person. Surprisingly, there is very little violence or sex--although there are drugs. The only violence occurs during the police brutality scene, which is shocking without going overboard. Fortunately, this is not a plot-driven film. The characters two lead characters are interesting and complex enough to make this a very engaging and even realistic film. The fact that it is shot in digital with no musical score further enhances its realism and sucks the viewer into the story like a vacuum.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Self confidence is an important characteristic to have, but some people like Krimo don't always have it when they need it. For people like him, it takes time and plenty of effort to change him. It is very inspiring how Lydia tries to help him feel more confident just by talking to him--and occasionally yelling at him. There is also a subtle, gentle theme of interracial relationships because both of them come from a different culture. The ending is satisfying simply because it sticks to the reality of the situation without feeling contrived with closure.



THE BOTTOM LINE: A film that breathes life through the realistic script, the convincing acting, and the 'Cinéma vérité' style of directing. It deserved its Best Picture award at the Cesar Awards (the French Academy Awards) beating films like The Chorus (Les Choristes) and A Very Long Engagement.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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