Replay: My favourite film - Clubbed To Death/Lola

I think it's about time I told you about my favourite film. It's not scifi, not fantasy, nothing to do with superheroes and doesn't feature even one giant robot, just a massive soundtrack and some great performances and direction.

I'm a big fan of expressionism-influenced French TV and cinema; I adore Spiral, the French attempt at Law and Order and have already discussed how great I think Alphaville is. This film, however, is the ultimate in Beckett-style absurdist cinema - almost nothing happens. It's called Clubbed To Death in the UK, and Lola in France, and it's unlikely that you'll have seen it as it hasn't had a UK DVD release, despite a relation to the Matrix trilogy, which I will get into later.

The plot is simple: the eponymous Lola falls asleep on a night bus and wakes up at the terminus. With no way to get home, she agrees to accompany a friendly guy to an underground club. She soon drops some ecstasy, ditches the guy and meets, and falls for, Emir, an Arab bouncer. Emir is a heroin addict, living in a perverse family unit with his fiancee Saida (played by the great Beatrice Dalle) and brother Ismael. The siblings fund their habit by participating in illegal boxing matches, while Saida dances in the club. Emir, however, is sick of his lifestyle and decides to run away with Lola, only Ismael refuses to let him leave until he's taken part in one last fight... which he does, and that's the entire plot. Though it's largely irrelevant.

The main beauty of the film is a string of prolonged setpieces; like when Emir walks Lola home at dawn across a deserted estate, nervously flirting in stilted, tired phrases; or Lola returning to the empty club just after it opens and dancing through three songs, lost in herself; or Emir and Ismael's fight intercut with Lola and Emir's first love-making session. It is a film of endless beauty that may as well be silent; the dialogue and plot is irrelevant compared to the tone. It should be viewed at 3am, as you wind down after a night out dancing, with the sun rising at the same point it does in the film; so perfectly does it capture that surreal, insomniac mood.

Dance DJ Rob Dougan is one of my favourite artists, and he compiled the soundtrack and contributed several tracks for the film. Its title theme, also called Clubbed To Death, was the song playing over the iconic Woman In The Red Dress scene in The Matrix, and Furious Angels soundtracked the opening fight in Matrix Reloaded; both transferring some of the tone of sombre importance from the French offering.

Words cannot describe just how great this film is. Talking about the component parts described here is like giving the technical specs for an Aston Martin without mentioning the beauty of the car. You just have to watch it. With a miracle, you can still pick up the video, but there isn't even a region one release as far as I know. If anyone knows any different, I'd be eternally grateful.

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