Bon Voyage (France; 114.)


directed by: Jean Paul Rappeneau
starring: Isabelle Adjani; Gérard Depardieu; Virginie Ledoyen
Bon Voyage
 

Bruce says: "BON VOYAGE is a French bedroom farce without a bedroom…well not totally, bedrooms do figure into the plot here and there. It’s just that the German invasion of Paris, secrets about the atom bomb and a nasty corpse figure more prominently. BON VOYAGE is a war drama, a crime melodrama, a thriller, a romantic comedy and a madcap escapade – all expertly entwined. This film is great fun. Few directors can handle so much action and variety of style with such aplomb.

"Not since Dianne Wiest gesticulated her incomparable 'Don’t speak,' in BULLETS OVER BROADWAY has anyone played an actress on screen so shamelessly as Isabelle Adjani. In BON VOYAGE Adjani is Viviane Denvers, a film actress known for her musical comedies and her succession of lovers. One of her recent lovers just won’t leave her alone. He slips into her luxurious apartment and literally never leaves. Viviane shoots him.

"Viviane calls Frederic Auger (Gregori Derangere), her first love, for help. Frederic is an unpublished writer who never can finish his magnum opus. He lives in the type of rooming house where the phone is in the hall and everyone writes messages and numbers on the wall. Still hopelessly in love with Viviane, Frederic rushes to the crime scene and helps her remove the body. He is caught and imprisoned. In prison he meets Raoul (Yvan Attal) as they are handcuffed together while prisoners are being moved to the south of France to avoid the impending German invasion. In a scuffle with prison guards, they escape and hide in the kitchen where they free themselves with a kitchen fork.

"Meanwhile Viviane has solicited M. Beaufort, Minister of the Interior (Gérard Depardieu) to interfere with the police investigation of the murder. She flirts outrageously; he notices she is wearing Jeanne Lanvin, “Le Scandale” to be exact. Another conquest for Viviane.

"Within days it is clear that Paris must be evacuated. On the last train to Bordeaux, Camille (Virginie Ledoyen) a student and Kopolski a Jewish professor are transporting his invention - heavy water - to the coast in hope they can get it to England, out of reach for the Germans. (Heavy water is essential for making an atomic bomb for it is used to slow down the neutrons and ultimately enables the chain reaction.) On the same train are Viviane and Beaufort, the two prison escapees, some German spies and many Parisian socialites. The Parisian upper classes are horribly inconvenienced by the evacuation and eagerly support Marshall Petain and his armistice with the Nazis giving them control of the north and west of France, including Paris. Many of them see collaboration with the Nazis as the means to maintaining their status quo.

"When the train arrives in Bordeaux some passengers head for the plush Hotel Splendide and the others end up at a chateau which has become a makeshift hotel for the refugees. At important meetings regarding the future of France, Beaufort is a key player. The meetings are continually interrupted by Viviane, Frederic and Camille – a great mixture of silliness and serious drama.

"How the Germans are outwitted, the bomb is saved, the novel is discovered, a crime forgiven, and true love revealed are resolved with great comedic timing. In the end, Viviane is 'trapped by her lies' coincidentally the same way as the actress in Frederic’s novel seals her fate.

"Adjani is just too good to be true. Depardieu is slim and stately, exactly as a Minister should be. Gregori Derangere makes a fine Frederic, young, starry-eyed and naïve but equally smart and resourceful. Virginie Ledoyen is lovely as the protector of the elderly professor. The sets, costumes, lighting and cinematography are all superb. Some of the dialogue particularly that of the Germans was not subtitled which I found annoying. Several scenes could have been improved with more rigorous editing. 4.5 cats"