'Bon Voyage' **** 061005
DVD Review (2003)


The Work = ****
'Bon Voyage' is a fun film following a group of people caught up in the fall of France at the beginning of World War 2. “Fun” may seem like a strange term to use but as unlikely as it sounds 'Bon Voyage' is indeed an enjoyable comedy set at primarily as France fell under Nazi rule. The lead is a hapless writer Frederic (Gregori Derangere) caught under the spell of an actress, Viviane Denvers played by Isabelle Adjani.

He is not alone however, as it seems that just about anyone who comes into contact with her falls in love. She often makes the best of her attention pulling the suitors from one direction to the other to help her get what she wants. Her current fiancé is high ranking politician Jean-Etienne Beaufort played by the talented Gerard Depardieu.

Frederic is the childhood friend of Viviane and is so smitten that after she lands him in jail (the man has some serious bad luck,) he refuses to give her up. In jail, Frederic meets the thief Raoul (Yvan Attal.) The Nazis invade and the prisoners are shipped out. In all the commotion Raoul and Frederic escape and form a friendship.

This film will not be for everyone. While it is a comedy to be sure, it has a lot of drama too. One thing about European cinema is often the filmmakers seem to be able to make comedies that have a lot of genuine drama that never seems forced or soap opera-y’. Take the British TV series 'The Office' or the British horror film 'Shaun of the Dead'. Both were comedies but they also had very dramatic passages. They were both somehow able to play to both genres and in the case of 'Shaun of the Dead' still be a full fledge horror/ dramatic and a comedy flic’. In the case of The Office a comedy and a workplace drama.

Here, there is drama and we see the plight of a people caught in the midst of a loosing battle. Incompetent leaders argue and debate surrender while civilians flee in hordes as the Nazi’s quickly advance. There is a lot to like in 'Bon voyage'. I especially liked a sequence where Raoul comes to the rescue of a professor’s assistant stopped in a vehicle about to be taken away.

The performances are all great. Adjani is mesmerizing and becomes more so when one realizes she was 42 when she filmed the movie! (She looks like she’s in her late twenties.) I liked Attal as the thief and also liked American actor Peter Coyote who manages to more than one language here.

'Bon Voyage' is a slow movie but a fun, rewarding one. It’s easy to recommend. It is subtitled so I suppose if you are one of those people that just cannot deal with subtitles this will not appeal to you. (Although, honestly, if you are an adult you should just learn to read ‘em.) Recommended.

DVD = ***

The Look
'Bon Voyage' gets an all around good Anamorphic widescreen transfer. It is present in the aspect Ratio of 2.35:1. Colors look good and the level of detail in the shots is high.

The Sound
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The soundtrack seemed great to me; sound effects came through clearly, and the score sounded moving.

The Bonus
The DVD has some trailers including the one for 'Bon Voyage'. Also on the DVD is a commentary by director Jean-Pail Rappeneau. He says a few things in English and then continues the rest of the track in French. Fortunately his commentary is subtitled. It’s a bit dry but still overall a good track. Rappeneau give a wide range of info about the film. The reason I only give the DVD a three star recommendation is because there is a two disk release of this film overseas. It’s a shame because Bon Voyage is a very enjoyable film and deserves a two disk presentation.

All Together = ****
'Bon Voyage' is an easy recommendation. It may not be fast paced but it is a fun charming movie that makes for repeat viewing. It has good performances, good sequences and a spiffy look. It is subtitled so you weenies who whine that you can’t deal with subtitles will have to suck it up. Highly recommended, if you are just one of the curious, give it a rental and see what you think.


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