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Fast car. Slow-moving but intense and poignant moral drama.
First things first, don't let yourself be misled by the title, the trailer and the poster. If you are a dedicated fan of tuned-up cars, of extreme speed and of death races, just skip this one. The reason is that, despite its title, "Voie rapide" (Fast Lane) is neither an offspring of "Speed" nor one of the "Fast and Furious" franchise. So if you swear by such high-octane entertainments, you will necessarily be let down. The fact is that the excitement sparked by the show of speed is not the point for Christophe Sahr (whose first feature this is). What actually matters to him is the psychological journey of his young "hero", evolving from the selfish retarded teenager he is at the beginning of the story, to the guilt-ridden young man he becomes after the hit and run accident he causes, to his final redemption. Such an angle of approach is for sure light years away from "Fast and Furious" genre. On the other hand, if you like films that dig deep into the human heart, don't be misled by appearances: "Voie rapide" is closer to Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment" than to "Unstoppable" and tuned-up cars, extreme speed and death races are part of it, these elements will not keep you from being captivated. Simply it is better to know how we are going to be eaten. Well, supposing you are the right target for "Voie rapide", you will find it both an interesting and poignant piece of filming. Interesting first because Sahr's description of the way millions of people live in today's France strikes for its accuracy (a young couple like millions of others, the necessary addition of two small wages to put enough food on the table ; two unskilled job in a supermarket ; life in a low-cost area ; eating out at a fast food restaurant, etc). Avoiding grim naturalism, Sahr's camera is content to reflect what living nowadays means to those who have not graduated from business school or inherited Dad's fortune. Also newsworthy is the film's documentary aspect. The little known tuning world (and its enthusiasts), for instance, is described faithfully, without haughty mockery or blind admiration. But the strong point of "Voie rapide" is undeniably the psychological portrait of Alex, its central character. Although a young husband and father (not by choice but only to comply with his wife's desire for a child), Alex is an immature young man, devoting most of his time (and money) to hanging out with his pal, playing video games and above all showing off in his yellow Honda Civic. He is exasperated by marriage and fatherhood and his daily life is a constant battle between reluctantly performing his duties and evading them. When one day, this (debatable) balance is shattered by the hit and run accident mentioned above, "Voie rapide" acquires additional depth. From this day on, Alex feels guilt slowly but irremediably invade him. He has killed a man of his age and, however hard he tries, he cannot get over the feeling. Both in his inner self and around him, the atmosphere becomes unbreathable. After the tragedy, Alex, under permanent tension, proves unpleasant to all, not only to his wife like before, and even manages to be at daggers drawn with his best friend. His slow downfall is described with chilling authority by Christophe Sahr, who shows himself a past master of mental suspense. In the role of Alex, Johan Libéreau is remarkable. He manages to make this brooding and selfish character bearable, which is no easy feat. There are also good performances from Christa Theret, very natural as Alex's young wife and Isabelle Candelier, very moving as the victim's mother. Last but not least it must be said that even if "Voie rapide" does not run in the same category as "Fast and Furious" - its budget being 100 times inferior to one of its episodes - the three speed sequences are filmed and edited with due virtuosity. All in all, "Voie rapide" is an excellent social and moral drama. Let's hope Christophe Sahr will be able to make a second feature (it already took him ten years to make this one), for he is a talented writer and director who deserves a long career.
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