Autumn 2004 Main series
Sunday, December 19, 2004 at 4:00pm
Sunday, December 19, 2004 at 7:00pm
Monday, December 20, 2004 at 7:00pm
Rated PG ·
A Gala Presentation at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival, Bon Voyage is a delicious romantic comedy writ stylishly large on a canvas of epic proportions and studded with France’s biggest stars. It is 1940; the Germans have just invaded France, the French government has fallen and Nazi storm troopers are marching under the Arc de Triomphe. However, these historic calamities inevitably and farcically pale beside the ongoing daily love problems of the film’s heroes. Even as the world crumbles, love affairs heat up, domestic plots thicken and romance is in the air. In Bon Voyage, director Jean-Paul Rappeneau – whose Cyrano de Bergerac won the Toronto International Film Festival’s Audience Award in 1990 – keeps the pot bubbling in the most urbane way, swaggering with joie de vivre through the desperate events of the spring of 1940.
The story begins with the “accidental” death of a lover, an event famous, gorgeous actress Viviane (Isabelle Adjani, La Repentie) tries to conceal from the police and her friends, including Jean-Etienne Beaufort (Gerard Depardieu, Le Placard), a high-ranking politician. She is helped by Frédéric (Grégori Derangère, La Chambre des Officiers), a young admirer and writer who unwittingly finds himself in a hornets’ nest, especially when the French government flees Paris for Bordeaux. Meanwhile, he meets a young student (Virginie Ledoyen, 8 Femmes) who is desperately trying to help a professor keep bottles of heavy water from falling into the hands of the Germans. Amid the thousands of fleeing refugees, the dizzying array of colourful characters follow their own chaotic paths to Bordeaux where love triangles, double-crosses and spies await their final twists.
The storylines are kept in perfect balance by Rappeneau’s dazzling ability to juggle them all, weaving from one to the next without losing an ounce of fun. High farce and bedroom antics are delightfully, if daringly, placed side by side with the tragic but rarely seen events of the war. The result is pure, stylish, visually stunning whimsy. A vivid evocation of the period in classic forties glamour is beautifully captured by Thierry Arbogast’s exquisite cinematography, while Rappeneau’s widely acclaimed elegance, lightness of touch and painstaking attention to detail give flight to an irresistible cinematic treat.