Projections - Movie Reviews

Bon Voyage
Bon Voyage
Starring Isabelle Adjani, Gérard Depardieu, Virginie Ledoyen,
Yvan Attal, Gregori Derangere, Peter Coyote

A vivid recreation of 1940's France that unfolds like a giddy Hitchcock suspenser is Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s Bon Voyage, in French with English subtitles.

A diverse, gifted French cast surround U.S. actor Peter Coyote with a backdrop of the Nazi occupation of France. Rappeneau helms a tangled tale of politics, deceit, and romance with such breeze aplomb that you can forgive how much comedy and drama is fraught with emotion. So much is happening that it’s hard to appreciate what it took to make an artistic farce, a highly stylized, detailed period piece, downplaying historical elements and character depth.

Isabelle Adjani leads the ensemble as a very vain actress Viviane who gets her long-time friend, ex-lover, and novelist Frederic, a surprisingly good Gregori Derangere, to dispose of another amour. But, Frederick doesn’t know that the victim was shot and is implicated for murder. A trimmer Gerard Depardieu, having worked with Rappeneau a while back on Cyrano De Bergerac, is a government minister who takes Viviane as his new mistress as the French flee from the Nazis to Bordeaux.

Bon Voyage becomes a series of subplots around Frederic. He stumbles upon an earnest student, an engaging Virginie Ledoyen of 8 Women, who is assisting a physics professor (Jean-Marc Stele) to smuggle out “heavy water,” part of the technology of the atomic bomb. It’s a secret that must stay out of Hitler’s hands. Yvan Attal is another AWOL guy and Coyote is a duplicitous journalist in this swirling mystery abounding with coincidences.

There’s an elegant chaotic feel to it all as Rappeneau works wonderfully with his lenser Thierry Arbogast who captures a bustling, volatile period in and around the City of Lights. It seems like a genre-bending hedonistic pleasure for those participating like Depardieu and Adjani who is as gorgeous as ever in a ditzy, imperious role. As Frederic tries to prove his innocence, much more than romantic underpinnings keep Bon Voyage a frantic impostor of a classic bon mot.

Bon Voyage

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