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Jun 11, 2008

Fletch's Film Review: Roman de Gare

It's Sunday night. Outside of The Fall, for which I have yet to write a review, Mrs. Fletch and I hadn't been to the theater much lately at all, both of us unimpressed by the output at the theaters in recent weeks. But we love going (and we love that Harkins popcorn), so I browse through the paper, scouring the ads to see what's playing and when. Unfortunately, we had no interest in seeing the latest releases (Zohan, Panda, SATC, etc.), and many of the indies out we had either already seen or weren't interested in.

Three choices remained - movies that we had either not heard of or were painfully unaware of: Jellyfish, The Year My Parents Went on Vacation, and Roman de Gare. We read the synopses, checked out the ratings the paper gave them (all about the same, if I recall correctly) and made our decision. Whether I'm becoming a sucker for French films or the quality as of late has been especially high (Paris, je t'aime, 2 Days in Paris, Persepolis, etc.), I'm not sure, but Roman de Gare it was. Aside from the synopsis, I knew nothing about it other than the names of the stars, of which I only recognized one name, and barely at that (Fanny Ardant).

Being a movie blogger, I find it a strange yet refreshing experience to go into a film with little to no knowledge of it beforehand. All the time standing in the line for the box office, I'll see the middle-aged grandmothers or parents with four kids on their arms asking the attendant what each movie is about or who the stars are, and I just cringe. Just like the folks at the rental store asking the cashier for recommendations, these poor souls have no idea what they're in for, and the thought of that is not only foreign to me, but it typically scares the hell out of me. That said, the few times I have gone in with minimal (or less) knowledge, I usually find myself pleasantly surprised.

Roman de Gare proved no exception.

The film centers around Pierre Laclos, a mysterious figure played by Dominique Pinon that may be one or more of the following: a pedophile/escaped convict, a husband who's ditched his life and wife of ten years, or a ghost writer of famous crime novels by Judith Ralitzer (Ardant). As we catch up with him, he's hurriedly driving away from Paris, and director Claude Lelouch (A Man and A Woman) ratchets up the tension via a hood-mounted camera that almost lets the viewer feel the wind through their hair as they race through the streets onto the highway and into the desolate country.

Stopping for gas (and maybe more), Pierre meets up with Huguette (Audrey Dana), who's either a hairdresser, a hooker, or both. She's just had a fight with her boyfriend and is in need of assistance, yet hardly in the frame of mind to get any, as her judgement clearly displays.

What follows is a sharply made story of deception and lies, with enough twists to make a pretzel envious. Pinon, recognizable to North American audiences as the jealous ex-boyfriend with a tape recorder in Amelie, puts on a great show, constantly leading and misleading the audience, disguising his true intentions while simultaneously showing you that there's nothing up his sleeve.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"It's in the hole!"

2 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Roman de Gare"

Daniel G. said...

It's one thing to show up to the theater completely ignorant of what's playing. It's quite another to find out the director and cast and, maybe with a one sentence synopsis, decide to see it and completely avoid everything else. That's generally my strategy.

If people don't know what they want to see they shouldn't be allowed in. Period. You don't show up to the ticket counter at the airport and ask where the next flights are going, and yes I think that's a fair comparison.

ANYWAY, having now seen all three of the movies that you had to choose between, I think you made the second best choice. Well maybe it's a close tie between Year My Parents and Roman de Gare. I think you really would have liked Year My Parents, for what it's worth. Nonetheless, your taste and sense are quite sharp for a blind viewing.

Regarding Roman de Gare, well I was definitely kept guessing throughout, but some part of me was hoping for even more subversive twists and turns in there. Some kind of accident on the curvy road of the movie, if that makes sense. Still, it's the best kind of movie to know little about. I haven't even seen the trailer yet, but I'm sure it gives away too much.

Fletch said...

I see what you mean about the accident on the curvy road analogy. Something like that might have taken the film from "really good" to "outstanding." All in all, tohugh, a pleasant surprise. Glad you liked it as well.

Year My Parents still just doesn't sound appealing. Perhaps...

(hell, we were desperate enough to see both Zohan and Hulk, and got burned twice, so maybe it's indeed time to take more chances in indie-land.)