A secretary steals her boss' car to go joyriding. She visits a seaside town she swears she's never been to, but everyone knows her name. And when a body turns up in the trunk of the car, she is the lead suspect in a murder she knows nothing about. Is she going crazy?Written by
"La dame dans l'auto avec des lunettes et un fusil" ("The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun") is a remake of a 1970 film of the same title starring Samantha Eggar and Oliver Reed, based on a novel by Sébastien Japrisot, who also wrote the earlier screenplay. Screen writing and producer credit for the remake go to Patrick Godeau, who has numerous credits as a producer but no prior writing credits.
One would think that in doing a remake, one would learn from the prior version, build on its strengths, improve its weaknesses and rework its flaws. However, this production displays the same faults criticized in reviews of the original. One minor change with significant implications is that in the 1970 film, Dany loses her way and by the time she realizes her mistake, continuing her journey doesn't seem like such a poor or drastic choice. In the remake, she makes a deliberate (if impetuous) decision, which puts her in a much less sympathetic light.
We aren't given much of an opportunity to know Dany before she embarks on her adventure. A few quick scenes portray her as socially awkward, submissive and a bit milquetoast. She is much more inclined to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune than to take arms against a sea of troubles, which makes the plot more plausible but doesn't make Dany a particularly sympathetic or interesting character.
Like the earlier film, the movie is set in 1970 or thereabout, when people used electric typewriters and carbon paper and revisions meant retyping the entire document from scratch. Nobody had cell phones, but CB radios were all the rage. The only rationale for this time setting is to make the plot slightly more plausible.
The story relies on a series of coincidences. As each coincidence occurs as part of a road trip, they seem highly improbable. If the character had instead checked into an isolated inn with a small staff, few guests and only one dining area, coincidental encounters and such might have seemed less unlikely.
Dany meets an egocentric self-serving rogue who is pretty much her opposite number in terms of personality, values and approaches to life. The movie's best scenes involve their interactions. This character could be a change agent who gives Dany the skills and outlook she needs to escape her predicament. After they part company, she does show some initiative in one reasonably clever scene, but quickly reverts to her passive role.
Eventually, Dany becomes caught up in the machinations of another character. This character's grand scheme dramatically impacts Dany's situation. It's never clearly explained, but its chances of success seem highly remote. The character tries to explain away some of the coincidences as some sort of preternatural force guiding Dany's choices.
The premise has considerably more potential than realized on screen. Dany's early choices could have complicated the other character's grand scheme, forcing that character into various spur-of-the-moment changes. (There is a bit of that in an encounter at a service station; however, how the other character came to be there in possession of a certain large object and managed to do things and leave unobserved by Dany or other witnesses seems implausible.) If Dany were to form an uneasy alliance with the rogue and develop new skills that allowed her to overcome increasingly difficult challenges presented by the other character's frantic efforts to adjust the grand scheme, it could have been a much better film. Films like "The Game" and "U-Turn" presented unsympathetic characters attempting to overcome challenges that intensified despite their best efforts.
Dany spends much of the film doubting herself and doubting her sanity. She never unravels the mystery surrounding her. Instead another character explains everything to her. At the end of the film, it's not clear if she has grown as a character and become better able to contend life's challenges. The film leaves many questions unanswered. It doesn't have a strong moral or theme. It's nicely photographed, but the style of cinematography seems outdated, like something from the 1970s.
The film stars Freya Mavor, which is about the best thing one can say about it. She is gorgeous. If she did nothing but stand there before the camera and smile, people would buy the DVD for the outtakes. Unfortunately, the script doesn't give her many opportunities to do much besides looking confused, but she looks great not doing much. Elio Germano does a credible job channeling Jean-Paul Belmondo as the rogue.
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