DECALAGE HORAIRE (Jet Lag)
DIRECTOR:     Daniele Thompson
FRANCE 2002
CAST: Juliette Binoche as Rose, Jean Reno as Feliz
CINEMATOGRAPHY:    Patrick Blossier
MUSIC: Eric Serra

Some actors are worth watching as they are always neat, and detailed and always make you believe.

It's hard to sit here and not feel that this was not a film that had anything in it, that made it special, as it really doesn't, other than some really fine performances and interactions between the actors and a camera that is capable of picking up the subtle nuances of the wording and reactions, which is what this film is really about ... reactions! It becomes an acting showcase for what two actors can do with their lines that is rarely taught in acting schools, in lieu of saying the lines in a certain way, left or right if you will, so that they can be more meaningful and raise the strength of the play or film.

When you have two actors that are allowed to play with the words and the script you will find that performances get much stronger and sometimes surprising. While there is no doubt that Juliette Binoche is a fine actress, it is hard not to believe that her being next to someone that could also dance around her with words, that the end result would not be a clash of egos but a really fine combination of personalities that help the film get stronger and lead to what is the inevitable conclusion of the film. These two people just met, and now ...

Story wise this is a situation where two people meet accidentally. In her neuroticism and way, while talking to a friend of hers in the bathroom, she drops the cell phone ... in the toilet while it is flushing and she can no longer talk to her family/friends, specially now that she is stuck in the airport with various storms and strikes coming and going that is delaying everything, and the news having fun letting the world know that 1 million people are stranded.

During these amusing episodes, he being a well to do business man, and she on her own and now trying to be romantic as she is getting on in years, and the hope that a new life and job in Mexico is going to change her feeling of misery at her lack of luck. As he is leaving and will be staying at the Hilton, she is getting accommodated on a bench in the airport for a night's sleep, and he invites her to stay with him. Up until then the film was a bit strange and seemed like it was trying to find a gag to hang on to, but it does not deteriorate much. And once there, the fun really starts.

During dinner, all kinds of this and that and phobias come forward, but in the end, even his taste could not resist trying what she had done to the salad that had ruined the dinner for him. At that point he softens up some and the film brightens up a bit. Maybe we will get to see that romantic movie with all the kissing that we like to enjoy!

It doesn't get that far. But a second night of having to stay makes things tougher and they end up going to the kitchen where he cooks for her, and the film is now getting delicious, and ... dang it ... I'm hungry!

Towards the end, on her way to Mexico he springs a surprise on her, and when she gets there, she does one of those U turns and comes back to Paris, and as it turns out, the very house she had dreamed about and told him ... my oh my ... Hollywood is now in France! ... is ... well, we have to let you enjoy that one yourself! It does tie up some story bits and pieces nicely, and suggests a nice story is coming up and it would be even more fun if a sequel could be made ... but what the heck.

It was interesting to see a couple of shots which were quite obviously showing that Rose was finally growing up, or at least shedding some of her past ways, and the mirror scene and the pool scene are probably more symbolic than they are really important to the film, at least to our minds ... and I'm not sure that we need to see that in order to believe that this person is changing as opposed to seeing that she has made up her mind that the old person she knew has to go ... and that one is even more clear in the mirror sequence, when for all of a sudden we see a woman, not a doll full of make up. And, you know what? The film takes advantage of an actress. She knows she is just as attractive without all the make up! And on top of it an even better actress! It is an excellent moment in the film, and it has no dialogue!

Really nice performances all around by both Jean Reno and Juliette Binoche, both of which do not disappoint. The facility with their exchanges and transitions are so full of detail that we never feel like the camera has to look away and throw in a shot here and there to distract us, or give us one of those shots to let us know that Paris is beautiful and romantic and all that ... it is in the end a simple film that just lets the actors do their thing, and it takes a very good director with a good sense of trust and not just ideas, to let that happen. And it does.

3 GIBLOONS

 

   

      

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