Bon Voyage departs from simplicity

April 27, 2004, midnight | By Erica Hartmann | 19 years, 10 months ago

In the beginning, it seems so simple: a beautiful actress is harassed by a sex-obsessed maniac; she tries to protect herself, and he winds up dead. Throw in a few sordid love triangles, lies as thick as the smog in L.A., manipulation both subtle and overt, ingredients for a nuclear bomb and the onset of World War II, and the whole situation becomes as complex as an Agatha Christie murder mystery.

The main story is that of Frédéric Auger (Gregori Derangere), a submissive, almost honest writer who is pulled and twisted between famous actress and childhood friend Viviane Denvert (Isabelle Adjani) and scientifically minded but hardly plain Camille (Virginie Ledoyen). Both are attracted to him, but each needs him for her own reason: Denvert to cover up the murder she committed; Camille to sneak the world's only supply of heavy water (used in bombs) out of France. Along the way, Auger is jailed, escapes when the Germans attack Paris and spends the rest of his time avoiding recapture.

Amidst all this insanity, it would be hard to believe the plot if it weren't for the spectacular cast who play spies, thieves, murderers and politicians. Though nearly everyone is dressed in black and white, not one character is pure and clear, and the actors portray that perfectly.

The most pleasing character to watch is Auger's partner in crime Raoul (Yvan Attal), who is two-faced but always handsome, charming and ever so sly. He turns into the most likable, most intelligent, most necessary character to the plot and most tragic; in short, he steals the show--but no complaints about that!

Adjani is also absolutely amazing; she looks a bit like Carmen Sandiego and is about as evil. She can convey more with a shifty eye movement than most actors can in a five-minute soliloquy.

The fast pace of the film forces all of the actors to be succinct. Events are rushed by panic, and any scene that isn't totally frantic is shortened into two-second clips. Tiny movements and individual blinks become the main language of the film; the dialog is secondary.

Since so much concentration is necessary to keep up with the frenzied action, it would have been nice to have a less intrusive score. Though it was appropriate music, it was too loud and noticeable to enhance the film. Thankfully, the other elements of Bon Voyage successfully overcome the score, making it a great work.

Bon Voyage is rated PG-13 for some violence. It runs 114 minutes and is playing at select theatres.

Tags: print

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