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GAMES OF LOVE AND CHANCE
USA: New Yorker Films
Cast: Osman Elkharraz, Sara Forestier, Sabrina Ouazani, Nanou Benahmou, Hafet Ben-Ahmed, Aurelie Ganito, Carole Franck, Hajar Hamlili, Rachid Hami, Meriem Serbah, Hanane Mazouz, Sylvain Phan
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Language: French (English subtitles)
USA: 117 mins
USA Release Date: 31 August 2005 (Limited Release - New York)
A shout-out to the Bronx, but the Franc-Moisin projects outside of Paris ain't the Bronx. Those living in Franc-Moisin may work, dream, fight and love, like those patrolled by the NYPD's 42nd precinct, but Franc-Moisin is Franc-Moisin and its 'hood plays by its own rules.
Abdelkrim's friends call him Krimo (Osman Elkharraz). He's a 15 year-old Franc-Moisin pre-thug with a father behind bars and great, big dreams. The watercolor sailboats that Krimo's father paints in prison cover the walls in the boy's bedroom - a promising exhibit of better days ahead. But life in Franc-Moisin proves dangerous and the streets have conditioned Krimo to protect himself. His dreams may help him stray from trouble, but if Krimo's homies shout, he's got their backs covered. It's a tight crew that carries the weight of its boredom around the 'hood, bullshitting about girls and clashing with rivalries. School has been a drag and Krimo's maddening girlfriend has just bounced, but when he runs into Lydia (Sara Forestier), slipping into her costume for the upcoming school play, Krimo's struck. Lydia and Krimo grew up in Franc-Moisin together and have been friends throughout their lives, yet watching Lydia sway in her new dress titillates Krimo. It's as if he's seeing Lydia for the very first time and he's fallen in love.
Lydia is fly. She is a romantic, a tough negotiator driven by passion and a stunning beauty. Only a girl like Lydia could blow through the projects in an 18th century-designed costume and get away with it. Confident and sassy, she is the star of the upcoming school play, Marivaux's "A Game of Love and Chance". It tells the story of a boy who swears his undying love for the woman of his dreams. The play has been cast and strenuous rehearsals have been moving along for weeks. Whenever Krimo runs into Lydia, Marivaux is doing all of the talking and it doesn't take long before Krimo sees "A Game of Love and Chance" as a way for him to get closer to Lydia. In exchange for a small stash of stolen goods, Krimo persuades his friend, Rachid, to give up the lead role of Harlequin. Krimo wants Lydia and he's far too smitten to be scared of being made to look ridiculous in front of his crew. As his professor proclaims, "the way you express yourself, tells others where you are from." Even if the role of Harlequin may prove a bit too challenging for Krimo, Marivaux's words are now Krimo's and Lydia is within his reach.
Teenagers bantering about seduction in their own words, tackling the fear of rejection, and learning how to love is the heart of Games of Love and Chance. It may take place in the Parisian projects, but this is a universal coming-of-age/love story that, in the words of director Abdellatif Kechiche, is about "marivaudages", or the light-hearted gallantries/banter of people living in the projects, talking about love and the theatre. In a sweeping victory, GAMES OF LOVE AND CHANCE upset A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT and THE CHORUS at the 2005 Cesar Awards, taking home Best Film, Best Director, Best Female Newcomer and Best Screenplay awards.