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25 years old Hippo doesn't have a job, doesn't study either but lives from the money his younger brother earns with dealing and from occasional Poker winnings -- he's a representative of a disillusioned generation, doesn't care what other people think of him. But of all people he falls in love with the ambitioned student Nathalie and soon finds himself forced to think about taking a job. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
Slice of french student life with truth-telling romance
In A World without Pity, Hippolyte Girodet plays a charming twenty-something slacker named Hippo who lives with his younger brother, Xavier (Jean-Marie Rollin), in their large noise pit of an apartment near the Sorbonne. Every night's a party, while afterward they recover for the next night's crowd. Xavier pays the bills by selling soft drugs and, flunking out of school, he's uncommitted to his loyal and good-looking girlfriend Adeline (Anne Kessler). Hippo had a past life where he got his degree, installed TV antennas and dated a brittle Francine (Cecile Mazan). He's a perfect nobody who flirts in the Paris streets of the sixth arrondissement and waxes morose about life's meaning as a modern bohemian. He drives a broken down and perhaps stolen jalopy. He takes in his best friend Halpern (Ivan Attal) who was just kicked out of his apartment by his former girlfriend who yells through the intercom that he's completely irresponsible.
By chance Hippo meets Nathalie (Mireille Perrier), a young Ashkenazi Jew, who is matriculating at the Sorbonne and works as a Russian translator. He pursues her with charm, smoking cigarettes, vulnerable but determined. He's outside a Paris nightclub, at the Sorbonne, showing up at her work. She is perhaps the perfect opposite of Hippo - industrious and committed to her career. One of the movie's strengths is its honesty in depicting their different lives and the conflict their various outlooks naturally provoke. But when they are together their attraction is palpably steamy, as well as frustrating for neither seems to fit the other's preconceived expectations for a lover. The movie follows this unlikely love affair in the context of their very different lives and the question is posed whether passion, attraction and love is enough to conquer in this world.
The movie is populated by very attractive French actors and the story follows daily life in the student quarter. We are introduced to the meter man who shows up early one morning at the brothers' apartment after a long night of partying; we meet their parents who are sympathetic and pathetic; we meet Francine who plays the role of the slightly vengeful and sharp former girlfriend who Hippo seeks out on the rebound. In the end, Hippo is confronted by circumstances no longer under his own passive and pathetic control but, in a very real and not completely unbelievable way, learns to cope with the differences between himself and the woman he must love.
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