Volume 73, Number 52 | April 28 - May 4, 2004

FILM


Koch on Film



“Bon Voyage” (+)
Writing and sustaining a farce in film or on stage is one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. Director Jean-Paul Rappeneau does a reasonably good job of carrying one off in “Bon Voyage.”

It is near impossible to review a farce and its plot in any detail without ruining its elements for those who have not yet seen it. It does not sit well for close examination since it is too gossamer and tinsel in content.

The overall plot of “Bon Voyage” concerns the days before the collapse of France in 1940 and its surrender to Hitler’s Nazi armies. Marshal Petain, brought out of retirement, is named head of France, and Charles de Gaulle is in a car on his way to find sanctuary in Great Britain. Hordes of elite French women and men are searching for ways to flee Paris and Bordeaux headed for the countryside, the beach or boats to take them across the English Channel. How these individuals manage their affairs makes up the essence of this film.

The leading stars are Viviane (Isabelle Adjani), a movie diva; Beaufort (Gerard Depardieu), Minister of the Interior prepared to obstruct justice for Viviane (a suspect in a killing); Kopolski (Jean-Marc Stehle), a scientist removing heavy water from France to England to frustrate the Nazis; Camille (Virginie Ledoyen), secretary to Kopolski; Frederic (Gregori Derangere), a former lover of Viviane and now her patsy; and Winckler (Peter Coyote), a Nazi spy in French clothing.

Many people who have seen a first-rate production of Oscar Wilde’s play, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” consider it to be brilliant and it is. “Bon Voyage” doesn’t reach Wilde’s excellence, but compared with most movies now available for viewing, it is more than acceptable. (In French with English subtitles.)


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