Bon Voyage review

:. Director: Jean-Paul Rappeneau
:. Starring: Isabelle Adjani, Gérard Depardieu
:. Running Time: 1:54
:. Year: 2003
:. Country: France


There are certainly a lot of preconceived ideas about French cinema in the US. While some boring scholars tend to confine it to the French new wave and Godard, mainstream audiences generally associate French films with intense and traumatic brainy activity, only finding them acceptable when loaded with gratuitous nudity—which is often the case—or offering a postcard depiction of Paris, like the overrated Amelie.

However, there is also a great tradition of comedy adventures, often set in particular moments of French history, such as Cartouche and L'As des As, both with Jean-Paul Belmondo, and La Grande Vadrouille with Louis de Funes & Bourvil. Jean-Paul Rappenau pays homage to these classics in Bon Voyage (the nuns are a direct allusion to La Grande Vadrouille), offering the perfect mix of comedy, action, romance and historical references with a strong and glamorous ensemble cast including Gérard Depardieu (Love Thy Father, Vidocq), Isabelle Adjani (Queen Margot, Nosferatu the Vampyre), Virginie Ledoyen (The Beach), Grégori Dérangère, Yvan Attal & Peter Coyote.

A young and talented writer, a melodramatic and manipulative actress, a confused minister, a beautiful student, a scientist with a secret, a bandit on the loose and a German spy cross paths in Bordeaux where the Parisian elite and the French government have taken refuge, fleeing the shadow of the sinister Nazi army which is slowly taking over Paris and the rest of the country.

Filled with humor, intrigue and action, Bon Voyage never takes itself seriously nor does it take the spectator for an imbecile, which distances it from the usual French exports of the genre, awful Besson-produced action comedies such as Fanfan la Tulipe, Wasabi and the Taxi series—that, incidentally, some genius Hollywood producer (or exec) thought would be great to remake. While Rappeneau has an undeniable flair to adapt literary pieces (Horseman on the Roof, Cyrano de Bergerac) with panache, it's certainly his talent as a screenwriter that is the key here, combining historical references and background to smart comedy. Bon Voyage is fluid and fast-paced in action, humor and romance and when the cast is composed of French cinema royalty, you get one of these rare moments of great mainstream entertainment.

  Fred Thom

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