Bon Voyage (Rappeneau, 2004) View large image
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Film Details

Directed by: Jean-Paul Rappeneau

Produced: 2003

Countries & Regions: France

DVD Details

Certificate: 12

Length: 110 mins

Format: DVD

Released: 10 January 2005

Cat No: OPTD0105

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Bon Voyage (Rappeneau, 2004)

Cast: Gerard Depardieu , Isabelle Adjani , Peter Coyote , Yvan Attal , Aurore Clement , Edith Scob , Virginie Ledoyen , Nicolas Vaude , Xavier De Guillebon , Michel Vuillermoz , Grégori Derangère , Jean-Marc Stehle

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Dark comedy directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau and starring Isabelle Adjani and Gérard Depardieu. Set in the opulent Hôtel Spendide in... Read More

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Dark comedy directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau and starring Isabelle Adjani and Gérard Depardieu. Set in the opulent Hôtel Spendide in Bordeaux in the last frantic days before Germany seized France in 1940, the film follows the various intrigues of the high-powered cabinet members, journalists and glitterati who have gathered at the hotel to escape the Nazi occupation of Paris. Adjani plays Viviane Denvers, a famous film actress who, finding herself pursued by the fat and charmless government official Beaufort (Dépardieu), attaches herself to a bad-tempered older man, André Arpel (Nicolas Vaude) in order to avoid her admirer. But when Viviane and Arpel quarrel and she slaps him, he drops dead before her - leading to a string of increasingly unlikely circumstances, which are further complicated by the imminent arrival of German troops.

Jean-Paul Rappeneau's wartime comedy Bon Voyage details the adventures of a beautiful actress, a besotted writer, a thief, a politician, a professor and his female assistant as they arrive in Bordeaux, having either fled from Paris or for purposes of resistance. As their paths intertwine, they find they must work together to combat the threat imposed by the ringleader of a faction of German spies.

The Drôle de Guerre period, when a bizarre ambiance lay over France as they waited for the Germans to attack, is beautifully captured in the film. Rappeneau has always been adept at evoking period (Cyrano De Bergerac, The Horseman On The Roof), and whilst the lush cinematography and production design won Césars (the French equivalent of the Oscars), the stunning costume design was also worthy of an award.

The larger-than-life characters lead to some lively, fun performances. Isabelle Adjani, as beautiful as ever, gives a great comic turn as the immoral actress Viviane who is capable of kindness as long as she herself is not at risk, whilst Gerard Depardieu plays the stock clueless politician role with panache. Two of France's most promising new stars (8 Women's Virginie Ledoyen and Grégori Derangère, who won a César for this role) impress as the youths around whom much of the plot revolve.

Although the film's light touch is one of its prime assets, subtly-suggested darker undercurrents are present - for example, Viviane's shameless machinations are first used to further her career, but by the end they are to save the lives of herself and her companions (in that order). Mostly, however, the film's comedy set pieces play like a sophisticated episode of Allo Allo, with some expertly orchestrated farcical episodes (a lengthy sequence in a crowded restaurant is particularly memorable). Bon Voyage never forgets that it is an escapist piece of high-hokum, and is all the better for it.

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