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  Bon Voyage Making A Getaway
Year: 2003
Director: Jean-Paul Rappeneau
Stars: Isabelle Adjani, Gérard Depardieu, Virginie Ledoyen, Yvan Attal, Grégori Derangère, Peter Coyote, Jean-Marc Stehle, Aurore Clément, Xavier De Guillebon, Edith Scob, Michel Villermoz, Nicolas Pignon, Nicolas Vaude, Pierre Diot, Pierre Laroche
Genre: Comedy, Thriller, War, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: France, near the beginning of the Second World War, and the nation is growing understandably concerned about the warlike nation they have as neighbours, yet for one of its major movie stars, Viviane Denvers (Isabelle Adjani), she has more than that to worry about. She is attending the premiere of her latest film in Paris, and although the audience love it throughout the screening she anxiously casts glances towards one of the men sitting below. He is staring back, and Viviane knows she has to avoid him...

One of many French films to contemplate what the state of affairs was when the Nazis occupied France, this was presented as a fun romp through the early stages of that situation, yet after a while - a short while - director Jean-Paul Rappeneau appeared to think, wait a second, this wasn't very funny at all, and you could be forgiven for missing all the humour and taking this as a straight wartime thriller. There were, however, hints that laughs were intended, mainly in the framework of farce that the ensemble of characters hurried through, so there was a lot of talking very fast, embarrassing incidents, and slamming doors.

But if you didn't find this especially hilarious, then at least the tone worked up for this was suitably tense. Viviane was not the only person finding life troublesome, as in the opening ten minutes she has gotten her lover, Frédéric (Grégori Derangère) into hot water as she asks (well, more demands) that the young writer should help her get rid of a body. Naturaly she cannot go the police, because she has a new film coming out and cannot afford the bad publicity, and Frédéric buys her flimsy explanation that the deceased - the ex-lover who was staring at her in the cinema - died after a fall.

But actually what has happened, as he finds out when the police arrest him after the car he's transporting the corpse in crashes, is that the man has been shot, and Frédéric is about to take the rap for Viviane. This is all occurring in a short space of time as far as the film goes, as no sooner is the writer jailed than he manages to escape as the chaos of the approaching Occupation encroaches on all aspects of French life, and goes on the run to find Viviane. That's how he gets mixed up with fleeing scientist Professor Kopolski (Jean-Marc Stehle) and his attractive assistant Camille (Virginie Ledoyen) and finds his purpose in life is to stop the Nazis getting their hands on the Professor's heavy water.

To call this hectic would be an understatement, as Rappeneau assembled this as if he were trying to get it finished before retirement loomed, and there was a deadline to reckon with. The cast were up to those demands, including Gérard Depardieu as an official trying to negotiate his way through the bureaucracy while still romancing Viviane, who is more interested in what he can do for her to get her out of potential career-wrecking scandal. Yet while they interacted with flair, the sense of this being a rather more shallow exercise than was planned never quite left it, as it may have flown by but with its feet barely touching the ground any gravity to its themes was skirted over. What did come across was the upheaval the war created, any war really, the characters both good and bad testament to that meaning you were surprised with these split second decisions how anyone managed to keep their heads at all. Music by Gabriel Yared.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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