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At the start of World War II, the fate of the free world hangs in the balance at the posh Hotel Splendide in Bordeaux. Cabinet members, journalists, physicists, and spies of all persuasions gather in order to escape the Nazi occupation of Paris. High society socialites hobnob with jailbirds. Murderous intrigues, scientific secrets and love affairs flourish. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
The more you know about French cinema, the more you will love this film
Director and auteur Jean-Pierre Rappenau was 8 years old during the spring of 1940 as France's Third Republic disintegrated in a matter of a few weeks. It was a time, he says, when "all the adults were a little bit insane." He and the production staff have lovingly and meticulously recreated that world in a film where all the characters are essentially fictional. The structure, a classic farce, is ideal for the period as multiple plot lines zip and intersect only to come together in a logical, satisfying conclusion. The peg for this plot is Frederic, played by brilliant newcomer Gregory Derangere, who is fully up to playing opposite Adjani, Depardieu and Ledoyen. The real strength of the film is in its supporting performances. M. Rappeneau has cast the film exquisitely with actors who volunteered ideas for both action and dialogue and who know and prove that it is possible to fully realize a character with just two short sentences of dialogue. Though not yet as widely influential as Renoir's 'Rules of the Game,' 'Bon Voyage' richly deserves to be a companion piece to that classic. Though it demands a lot of the audience, it gives much back. One of its demands is tolerance for a certain coyness and misdirection as to the exact genre we are watching: a crime melodrama, no, a spy thriller, ah, a romantic comedy. Recommend it to cinemaphile friends. Just be sure to let them discover for themselves that it is a romantic comedy.
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