Alexandre Aja is now a well-known name after his success in the horror genre with "Haute Tension" and "The Hills Have Eyes". In "Furia", his first feature length film, he tells a story loosely based on "Graffiti", a short story written by Argentinian writer Julio Cortazar. While the film is definitely not perfect, it is very good for a debut, and one can witness how Aja's art has grown up to the point where he is now.
Both the story and the film have as setting, a city where freedom of speech is nearly outlawed. Sure, people can still travel and make business with freedom, but it is forbidden to express ideas and to paint on the walls is a serious crime. This is the world where Theo (Stanislas Merhar) lives, and where he paints.
Even with this scenario perfect for a high sci-fi tale, the short-story (and in consequence, the movie too) focuses on the people rather than on the setting. Theo paints, but he only does it because he likes it, without a serious political theme in his graffiti. Until Elia (Marion Cotillard) enters in his life and gives meaning and substance to his, until that point, simple and untroubled life. This event also awakes him and the change is reflected in his drawings, as he discovers that Elia too likes to paint at night.
While the short story remains focused on Theo and how love changed his life; Aja takes some time to explore this decadent world although, without deviating too far away from his subject. This has as result a very human movie, and a very interesting concept that never gets boring or tiresome.
Even in this early movie, Aja's great use of colors is already noticeable; and his visual composition is not only very good for his limited budget, it is also fitting for the theme and mood of the story. Of course, the movie has technical flaws, particularly the lighting is a bit bad at times. Nevertheless, one can see that Aja's style was developing at that time.
The cast is very good, and Merhar and Cotillard have lots of chemistry on screen. Marion Cotillard is really someone who captures the attention, not only for her beauty, but also for her ability to transmit emotions. Wadeck Stanczak is also superb as Theo's brother who works for the government even when he knows they oppress people. He has very good scenes and really owns the screen when he is in it.
"Furia" is a very interesting film, not only for its subject matter, but also because it serves as testimony of the growth of a young filmmaker that with only three films is already a promising star of modern cinema.