"... too distracting, too busy, and too unfocussed ..."
France’s official submission for the 2003 Oscars, and the least worthy choice out of all the French films I saw from the festival.(It just so happened that I saw more from France than any other country; it’s no indication of nepotism among the countries.) Stripped of its many contexts, subplots and characters, Bon Voyage is a story of unrequited love between an adored movie star (Isabelle Adjani, at nearly 49, looking more and more like Cher) and a writer who is immured for the murder of one her lovers, an accident she is responsible for, but in which he voluntarily takes the fall. It’s 1940, and the Nazis have already stormed Paris, sending the politicians and aristocrats to Bordeaux, where the escaped writer and his friend hitch a ride from a scientist and his protégé, as they in turn are bringing a dangerous chemical to keep out of Germany’s hands. (And so it bulks up, etc.) The writer’s liaison with the movie star, who is concurrently the lover of a high-ranking politico, serves as an in for the scientist to get his “heavy water” out of the country, while the writer struggles to woo back his one-time inamorata. At all times and in every moment, Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s film is frenzied and bursting at the seams with action or developments, multiple times over, within a single scene. It attempts to whip up the exacerbated furibund of Costa-Govras’ Z to no avail; one’s senses are already on overload. The film’s busyness (and dizziness) tends to distract from the action as the convolutions of the plot stagnate from an advancing viewpoint. When the flailing plotlines and characters are not absorbing total attention, Bon Voyage is doubtlessly a classy production with solid photography by Thierry Arbogast and a very able cast, including Gérard Depardieu, Virginie Ledoyen, Yvan Attal, Grégori Derangère, Jean-Marc Stehlé, Aurore Clément, and in a polyglot role, Peter Coyote. But it’s too distracting, too busy, and too unfocussed to appreciate much beyond its glamorous exterior façade.[See it if you must.]