Bon Voyage, 05-12-04
Last night, we went to the Oriental Theatre to see the French film "Bon Voyage." It had looked good in the trailers, and we were not disappointed. The bulk of the film's action takes place in a few days in June of 1940, as France is falling to the German invasion. The timing of the story and some of the plot elements make comparisons to "Casablanca" inevitable, but it is a "Casablanca" shot in gorgeous Technicolor with a forties sensibility. The plot is more complex, too, as each of the characters from "Casablanca" is split into two complete and interesting characters. The role of the glamorous former lover is given to Isabelle Adjani, as the fickle and self-centered movie star, Viviane Denvers. The idealistic woman seeking to rescue her older mentor is the student Camille, played with great grace by Virginie Ledoyen. The new lover is the always watchable Gerard Depardieu in the role of Minister Beaufort, and the aged mentor, Professor Kopolski, is played by Jean-Marc Stehle. The true-hearted old flame that gets dragged back into Viviane's dangerous and dramatic life is Gregori Deranger as the writer Frederic Auger, while the roguish element of Rick Blaine is personified in the merry "outlaw" Raoul (Yvan Attal). Frederic has gotten thrown in jail for helping Viviane cover up her killing of an obnoxious fan, and escapes jail in the company of Raoul when the prisoners are being moved ahead of the German advance. He inadvertantly follows Viviane and Minister Beaufort to Bordeaux, where the government has also fled. The loyal Camille has also helped Professor Kropolski get there, in hopes that he and his supply of heavy water will be able to flee to England, avoiding the pursuing Abhwer (German Secret Service) agents. The way in which the lives of these separate people interweave in this time of crisis is worked out elegantly, and with exquisite timing and logic, that is nevertheless a good, old-fashioned adventure as well. Excellent performances by Adjani, somewhat sending up her iconic status as "movie star;" the reliable Depardieu; Deranger, who is young and handsome in a Jean-Paul Belmondo style, and they are ably supported by the rest of the cast, all of whom are marvelous to look at. Georgie says, "When I want to look at interesting faces, I should go to a French movie."
Highly recommended. (French, subtitles). No sex, nudity, English profanity. Violence is moderate for the type of film.