Clubbed to Death

Director: Yolande Zauberman

Yolande Zauberman’s remarkable Clubbed to Death is set within the banlieues, Paris’s impoverised suburbs that house the immigrants, drug dealers and thieves. Shot in muted colours and almost entirely with a hand-held camera, the film views its alien world through the eyes of the 20-year-old Lola (Elodie Bouchez), who falls asleep on the bus going home from work and wakes up at the end of the line in the strange outskirts of her city. She wanders into a huge, wild nightclub. Techno music shatters the air, sweaty bodies sway, and the exotic Saida (Beatrice Dalle) presides over the local floor show. A stranger pops Lola a pill, and the next thing she knows she’s in the arms of a sultry French Arab.
Zauberman’s film starts as a refreshing leap into the physical and fordidden, but it becomes much more than a dance on the wild side. When Lola meets the handsome Emir, she falls in love. Emir (Roschdy Zem) is a junkie and ex-boxer and he’s impotent, so sex is not the attraction, but the relationship is as strong for him. The idea of the possibility of love between two very different cultures in France is perhaps the point of the movie, but it isn’t laboured. The narrative is really an excuse to probe the forbidden territories where most of us never dare to venture. The director casts a surreal veil over the film, accentuating the underground landscape into which Lola has stumbled. Still, Zauberman’s characters are never less than real, and the cast is exemplary, especially Beatrice Dalle as the mesmerising Saida. Denis Lenoir’s superb photography creates a dazzling nocturnal atmosphere and the soundtrack is a knockout.

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