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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 5.88%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad35.29%
Total Crap: 23.53%

4 reviews, 10 user ratings

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Girl on the Bridge
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by Greg Muskewitz

"It's not as magical as it would like you to believe."
2 stars

The biggest problem with a movie like "Girl on the Bridge" ("La Fille Sur le Pont") is that when a movie's main focus is on the fantasy aspect, you have to believe in it. Otherwise, it seems merely as obviously scripted coincidences. The worst case scenario is something like "Simply Irresistible." This falls into a medium ground of hopeful artistic endeavours that are not all the way met.

"Girl on the Bridge" opens with a young woman, for the moment, unnamed, sitting at a table with a light on her in a room filled with various spectators, as if it were an audience-friendly interrogation. The girl, Adele (Vanessa Paradis) speaks of past misfortunes of love and reasons prompting her promiscuity. She just wanted to get away. She believed them when they'd say she was beautiful. But as soon as the ride was over, so were they.

Following, Adele is planted on a bridge, standing over the rail, contemplating suicide. A stranger approaches her hoping to talk her out of it. If she's suicidal, he says, why doesn't she join him? He's a circus knife-thrower, and she'll have equal chances to being put out of her misery. This bridge is after all, as he tells us, his most popular recruiting area.

The stranger, Gabor (Daniel Auteuil) eggs her on and says he doesn't believe she would jump. So she does, and he goes in after her. After getting treatment in a hospital for hypothermia, he convinces Adele that she's good luck. He needs her, and in the meantime, she'll get paid. Gabor uses mind tricks, like "pick which hand the watch is in" and have one in each hand in order to accommodate his harmless deception.

Gabor brings her to a casino in France where he'll hopefully get a gig. The casino, however, is not interested in a banal old knife-throwing act, so they make an exception if he does it blind-folded. The act is a success, and they offer him a gig in Rio de Janeiro.

Director Patrice Leconte is not an unestablished filmmaker; some of his best works included "Ridicule," and "The Hairdresser's Husband." He chooses a black-and-white photography scheme that's quite luscious and creamy. Shot by Jean-Marie Dreujou, the foundation is very soft and very clear. Black-and-white cinematography is hardly the commodity it was, and now is often used in bad stock. When the movie opens with the interrogation, it's composed of long shots revolving around the table and small interjections of continuity editing. Even the gleaming, blinding light gave a certain finesse to the look of the movie, but the farther into it it got, when Leconte would become excited over a scene, as in the montage sequences, the camerawork became a mess. The axises were all tilted, twisted, shaken and stirred, and it detracted from the quality of the rest.

By nature the knife-throwing scenes are going to be tense and dramatic, but the intensity would have been further extended by including long shots where you actually see the knife being thrown, and following it until it hits the board. Albeit, a little more dangerous, it would have achieved a greater sense of thrill.

Serge Frydman scripted in some unusually, yet still effective sardonic humor and banter between the two leads. It's obvious that Gabor likes this girl, and they magically click like the leads in Michael Rymer's "Angel Baby," and so when Adele becomes so easily distracted by young hunky guys giving her the eye, she can't resist. Her behavior as an acute-nymphomanic makes it's point early on (with the passenger, in the bathroom on the train; with the contortionist, in the casino, on the piano; with the clerk, at the café, behind the register) and it surprisingly never really loses its effectiveness.

Auteuil, reminiscent of a lighter, looser Gabriel Byrne, but he carried himself with enough calm charm, that he worked quite well. Paradis, somewhat of a cross between Wynonna Rider, Alicia Silverstone, and a tweak of a few others, is a little bit more arbitrary. The sense of sweetness is there, sometimes overdone, but she comes and goes with whim. But that's just her character.

Yet when they insert the magical qualities, like when Adele bets all they're money on 0 in a roulette game, and repeatedly wins, it's unswallowable. Adele and Gabor also have the ability of telekinesis between themselves, and although that's a little more easy to understand, it is still a stretch. Long about the 70-minute mark, it begins to wear out its welcome, becoming banally predictable, silly and pretentious. The episode on the ship was no more funny, than it was to tack on something that was unsure how to end itself. Near the conclusion, scene after scene were all seemingly endings on their own, but the one that comes at the real end is cliché and unforgivable.

Final Verdict: C-

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originally posted: 08/03/00 04:54:31
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/31/10 Ape Hope to see it a second time 4 stars
11/27/04 spottyandthedog this film has a great sense of changing from a life based on lust to one based on love 5 stars
11/02/04 Larisa Zimmerman This movie is wonderful, a sweet little fable in black and white. I recommend it highly. 5 stars
6/19/04 Tina Noble One of the best love stories of it's time!! 5 stars
12/28/03 Lalalalalaaa This reeked and Adele's teeth were icky. 1 stars
11/22/03 Charles Tatum Yaaaaaaaaaaawn 1 stars
10/06/03 Jo absolutely fantastic! 5 stars
8/05/02 Dan Navarro Probably the best b&w cinematography since "Citizen Kane." 4 stars
3/23/01 Joanna Absolutely fantastic! 5 stars
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  28-Jul-2000 (R)
  DVD: 01-Jul-2008



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