After a wealthy French couple witness the assault of an young Algerian prostitute on a Parisian street, the two women go on to form an unlikely friendship, finding the strength to support one another in their respective struggles with the men in their lives.

The film is not only outspoken and disturbing but it\'s often funny, too

Helene, Catherine Frot, and Paul, Vincent Lindon, are a middle-aged couple who both have demanding jobs. They\'re always rushing somewhere, seldom talk to one another - and when Paul\'s widowed mother visits from the country, he hardly has time for her. Their son, Fabrice, Aurelien Wilk, a student who lives with his girlfriend, has inherited their lack of social skills; he has no time for his mother.

Their lives are changed when, driving through a narrow city street at night, they are confronted by a young woman in trouble. Noemie, Rachida Brakni, is being chased by thugs, Paul locks his car doors and they watch as she\'s savagely beaten. Paul dismisses the incident, but Helen is profoundly affected; she goes to the hospital where Noemie lies in a coma, and she becomes the wounded girl\'s friend. Chaos positively overflows with themes and ideas.

Coline Serreau\'s message is that women have to stand up in solidarity against the men who exploit them, and that, controversially, includes Muslim women. A lengthy flashback depicts Noemie\'s past life, the exploitation of her father and her brothers, and how she became a prostitute. The film maybe tries to tackle a little too much, but it\'s so passionate and so witty that it doesn\'t really matter. It was shot on video with a hand-held camera, but you\'d hardly know it because Serreau isn\'t out to infuriate the audience - the video shooting is very controlled, and it looks good. Performances are uniformly excellent and the film is not only outspoken and disturbing but it\'s often funny, too.