Bon Voyage (12A)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/05/2004


Three out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Glossy, enjoyable wartime comedy-drama with good performances and a stirring score from Gabriel Yared.

Director Jean-Paul Rappeneau is best known as the Oscar-nominated director of Cyrano de Bergerac and his latest film, Bon Voyage, is a similar blend of romance, comedy and drama, apparently filtered through elements of Casablanca.

As such, it’s a glossy, enjoyably nostalgic throwback to fast-paced 1940s Warner Brothers movies that benefits from an attractive cast and a superb score, even if it does occasionally threaten to turn into a confusing mess of “knees-bent, running-about behaviour”, as the Pythons might say.

Nazis On The Way

The film is set during the imminent Nazi occupation of Paris and it follows several characters and their intersecting lives as they flee to Bordeaux. Isabelle Adjani plays murderous movie star Viviane, who manages to implicate smitten would-be novelist Frederic (Derangére) in the crime she has just committed. When Frederic goes to jail for her, she enlists the help of Gerard Depardieu’s beleaguered minister in the hopes that he’ll help her escape to Bordeaux and keep the press away from her story.

Meanwhile, Frederic escapes from jail and hooks up with Yvan Attal’s Raoul, an attractive thug. He then meets an atomic scientist (Jean-Marc Stehle) and his beautiful, plucky assistant (Virginie Ledoyen) and agrees to help them escape.

However, when the various characters all find themselves thrown together, it quickly transpires that one of them is a Nazi spy! (Alright, it’s Peter Coyote – as if you couldn’t tell from the cast list alone).

Characters Well Juggled

Apart from answering the question, “Whatever happened to Isabelle Adjani?” (weirdly she doesn’t seem to have aged at all), Bon Voyage does a good job of juggling all its characters, despite the fact that it’s occasionally hard to tell just who’s running where.

The cast are all very good, though the film criminally wastes Depardieu, who’s barely onscreen enough to deserve top billing. However, the standout performance belongs to Virginie Ledoyen, who is utterly adorable as Camille and steals every scene she’s in. The weak note is Derangere, who seems a little too bland for the lead role, plus his character is occasionally irritating to the point where you want to slap him.

That said, there are some good scenes and all the frantic running about gradually grows on you as you slowly realise that the film is, in fact, a sophisticated farce dressed up as a wartime adventure movie.

In short, this is an entertaining comedy-drama that ticks along nicely and doesn’t outstay its welcome, thanks to spirited direction and decent performances.

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Bon Voyage (12A)
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Content updated: 20/02/2019 10:25

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