It's night on a Paris bridge. A girl leans over Seine River with tears in her eyes and a violent yearning to drown her sorrows. Out of nowhere someone takes an interest in her. He is Gabor,...
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It's night on a Paris bridge. A girl leans over Seine River with tears in her eyes and a violent yearning to drown her sorrows. Out of nowhere someone takes an interest in her. He is Gabor, a knife thrower who needs a human target for his show. The girl, Adele, has never been lucky and nowhere else to go. So she follows him. They travel along the northern bank of the Mediterranean to perform and in the process win a big fortune through gambling. Although both of them continue a platonic relationship, the sex-starved girl attempts to sleep with handsome guys she encounters throughout the journey. Finally, Adele falls in love with a newly-wed groom and both of them elope to Greece, while Gabor is stuck in Turkey. Then Adele is dumped by the groom. Only by now both Gabor and Adele realize that luck isn't with them unless they get together again. But both of them are so broke that they can't even feed themselves, let alone getting back to Paris and reunite... Written by
L.H. Wong <email@example.com>
The opening sequence lasts for more than 7 minutes with a monologue by Vanessa Paradis. In the DVD commentary, director 'Patrice Leconte' says that a single shot was necessary using several cameras. See more »
In the hospital where Adele and Gabor bet on the fly, the wagered watch is on the desk before Gabor hands it to Adele. In the next shot the watch is back on the desk. See more »
Learn to lose, or you'll take wining for granted.
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Two Leconte movies are on my list of favourites, but...
... this one's very far from being one of them, unfortunately.
Populist detractors of French cinema, knee-jerk Europhobes, phobics of subtitles, blinkered viewers who divide all cinema between Hollywood vs. "pretentious" art-house: if you really want to pick on a French movie that you think embodies all the clichés of Gallic cinema you so love to hate, take your vitriol out on this one! Leave masters like Rivette, Truffaut, Resnais, Rohmer, Denis, Varda and other, much better Leconte movies alone!
La Fille Sur le Pont's main players: Gabor, a middle-aged man played by the ubiquitous, but always pleasant to watch Daniel Auteuil and Adèle, a lithely beautiful, gazelle-like young woman who has the face of Vanessa Paradis. Predictably, Adèle is emotionally messed up, fragile and yet sexually promiscuous. The two meet when the charismatic grouch, Gabor, intercepts the girl on a Parisian bridge and prevents her from committing suicide (wasn't that also how Emmanuelle Béart's character and her boyfriend met in La Belle Noiseuse?). Gabor is an itinerant knife-thrower, by the way - sans toit ni loi. Naturally enough, since we are talking about a girl who has nothing to lose, Adèle becomes his target. Despite the rocky beginning, in which the two spend much time squabbling, there is naturally a strong attraction between them (in fact, as clichéd as all this may sound, the first 20 minutes of the movie, in which Gabor and Adèle's relationship is first established, were my favourites). We even get to meet a previous living target of Gabor's, a woman now performing in another circus number, at the venue where Adèle is about to perform for the first time. We see that this "ex" of Gabor's is also fragile and messed up, besides still preserving a clingy dependence on the knife-thrower. So, it seems that what Gabor has to offer women is somehow life-affirming, and better than sex. And in fact, watching Gabor and Adèle at work, you cannot help thinking: who needs these two to literally have sex when all that knife-throwing is more suggestive of penetrative sex than a steamy Tinto Brass scene of your choice?
In retrospect, I think this movie's main merit was to make me discover how charming and beautiful Johnny Depp's squeeze is - I had no idea. Sadly, Vanessa Paradis could not save the little movie from being just a nice-looking, superficially funny, substanceless piece of fluff, furthermore a hit-parade of French movie clichés that I thought would be beneath Leconte. Beineix's Betty Blue, Senta from Chabrol's silly La Demoiselle d'Honneur, Romane Bohringer's character in L'Appartement, even Jeanne Moreau as Catherine in Jules et Jim, and countless others: why are so many women in a certain category of French cinema invariably characterized as fragile and irrational, unsettlingly unpredictable and self-destructive, even suicidal? Yet, they are also intoxicatingly seductive and sexually voracious, fickle and capricious. They're the ultimate misogynist's sex fantasy, a woman that frightens (the vagina dentata myth being a symbolic exasperation of this fear of femininity) and enslaves the male (because sexual attraction is biologically inescapable). Paradis's Adèle was in fact a rather tone-down, sweetened version of one such stock female creation - in fact, perhaps a part of Leconte was distancing himself from this prototype and playing with it, though the other part of him was embracing it. But the fact that in the end Leconte shows us Gabor's fragility and Adèle's nascent strength goes some way towards showing that the director was also partly turning the stereotype on its head. The "Betty Blue" is what I call the female French movie prototype of the fragile-sexy-doomed heroine, which DOES certainly also exist in other cinematic traditions, though I seem to observe it more often in French movies. It's a fictional embodiment of womanhood that can be traced right back to the doomed "femme fatales" of the 19th century French artistic movement The Symbolists.
The scenes of La Fille Sur le Pont that were set in Italy, Greece and Turkey were rather dubious in their astonishingly twee and simplistic stereotyping as well. They were the equivalent of accompanying any scene set in Paris with sappy accordion music and a view of the Eiffel tower in the background. Was Leconte trying to be "Fellinian" in that raffle scene in San Remo? Oh, puhleez! Give me Tandem, Ridicule or L'Homme du Train any day over this candy floss, Patrice.
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