Lowdown: Tales of French chaos as Germany invades during 1939.
The only thing I knew about Bon Voyage before I’ve started watching it was the TV guide’s rather laconic description: “a 2003 war film starring Gérard Depardieu”. I reckoned Depardieu is worthy of my time so I had my PVR tape (or rather, record) the film off SBS, expecting a war drama. Should have known better…
Bon Voyage starts off with Isabelle Adjani, a French movie star from whom I haven’t heard for a while, playing a French movie star femme fatale who gets into trouble when a man dies in her house under dubious circumstances. She calls a former lover who didn’t fare as well as her and who has dreams of becoming a writer to help, but he gets arrested after having a traffic accident while carrying the dead man’s body. One lover down, Adjani turns to a much older French minister (Depardieu) for help and in return becomes “his woman”. Then we have a Jewish physicist who escaped from Nazi Germany but is still sought after by the Germans for his invention of heavy water; this old guy is accompanied by his lovely assistant (Virginie Ledoyen). And then there's a felon called Raoul with whom Adjani’s luckless lover becomes acquainted in jail. And then… then we have Germany invading France and all of the previously mentioned characters seeking refuge in the south of France while the German army keeps on getting closer and closer.
Sounds confusing? It is. The answer to the confusion has to do with the nature of Bon Voyage. You see, much more than being a war time drama, it’s a parody about human nature in times of strife. You’d be more touched by Bon Voyage’s comedy than by its story, which on its own is nothing special if it weren’t for the way the film keeps on shaking and remixing its characters. Eventually, everyone gets what they deserve: the idealistic win the day, those that adapt to the times get their own little clever punishments, and even criminals have to pay their bills off.
Best scene: The host of a Southern France home that accommodates many refugees, starving for entertainment, reviews the draft our aspiring writer carries with him and comes up with some interesting insight. Guess it reminds me of my childhood days when I, too, was starving for good contents.
Overall: A nice, if overall lacking in depth, tale of commotion. 3 out of 5 stars.