Directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, starring Grégori Derangère, Isabelle Adjani, Virginie Ledoyen, Gérard Depardieu, Yvan Attal, Peter Coyote and Jean-Marc Stehlé.
Those who tend to give French films a wide berth because they claim the stories unfold too slowly (Jacques says, "Sandrine." Sandrine says, "Oui" - ten minutes later.) are in for a surprise if they can convince themselves to go and see 'Bon Voyage'. Here is a film that mixes World War II drama, farce and adventure, with veteran director Jean-Paul Rappeneau - for the most part -bouncing the plot along at high speed.
Screen idol Viviane Denvers (Adjani) kills a troublesome admirer and dupes lover Frédéric (Noah Wyle lookalike Derangère) to dispose of the body. More wannabe author than career criminal, Frédéric crashes the victim's car, revealing the body in the boot, and ends up in prison on a murder charge. Fast forward six months, and he's awaiting trial, but with the Germans only a day from Paris, the warders decide to move the inmates to a new location. Frédéric takes his chances and escapes to Bordeaux, where he crosses paths with Viviane and her new cabinet minister lover (Depardieu), dodges the police and becomes embroiled in a bid by a Jewish scientist (Stehlé) and his assistant (Ledoyen) to smuggle a discovery out of France before the Germans can get it.
Brilliantly recreating 1940, Rappeneau's film may lose a little spark in the middle, but 'Bon Voyage' remains an ingenious example of genre mixing. Rappeneau can switch from high farce to high tension, often within the one scene, and if the characters seem out of breath, then some of the audience could also be gasping for air. Backed by a Gabriel Yared score, the performances recall those of the era, with Derangère a cool unlikely hero and Ledoyen taking the swoon factor up to dangerous levels - no mean feat in a film also starring Adjani.
If blockbusters leave you cold, then this is one trip well worth taking. You could recommend it to a granny but will find little to complain about yourself afterwards.