‘Bon Voyage’ is a pleasant trip

    The German invasion of Europe during World War II is not without its share of screen time. From the despair of “The Pianist,” to the redemption of “Schindler’s List,” to the quiet rebellion of “Jakob the Liar,” nearly all aspects of this momentous event have been covered in American film.

    But, as they say, if you want the real story, ask the people who were there at the time. The Italian production “Life Is Beautiful” somehow managed to intertwine all of these aspects together and create a half-terrifying, half-madcap comedy about the chaos of the time. “Bon Voyage,” however, leaves out all the gut-wrenching drama and instead presents us with a period piece that spins a simple story of intrigue, á la Indiana Jones, without the explosions.

    For all intents and purposes, “Bon Voyage” is a comfortable film. Shying away from great moral quandaries or terrifying visuals, director Jean-Paul Rappeneau allows the audience to relax and enjoy the acting and melodrama, evoking the mood of a 1940s matinee.

    And there’s plenty to enjoy about the acting. Playing the part of a young novelist/adventurer, newcomer Grégori Derangère spearheads an incredible cast, including French superstars Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Adjani. Derangère’s obligatory love interest is a lab assistant played by Virginie Ledoyen, who spends most of the film poured into a tight blouse. Despite an easygoing plot and several painful clichés centering around a somewhat less-than-torrid love triangle, every single performer in this film carries themself with dignity and absolute believability.

    The cinematic aspect of “Bon Voyage” is equally noteworthy. Filled to the brim with visually stunning artifacts and locations, the production design makes even the most mundane events (such as looking at bottles in the back of a car) compelling and exciting. Gabriel Yared’s melodramatic score is a little more hit-and-miss, soaring to point of parody and often undermining any real tension the movie manages to build.

    But in the end, any small flaws or inconsistencies are quite forgivable, as the film’s unique brand of humor holds the film together nicely. Rappeneau’s timing is impeccable, and he somehow manages to tell a “dramatic” story with the pacing of a madcap comedy. A far cry from the “funny action” flicks that plague the multiplexes filled with mugging actors improvising one-liners and post-kill puns, “Bon Voyage” presents an entirely holistic sense of humor, where the silliest little details often lead to the biggest belly laughs.

    Maybe this is why “Bon Voyage” shies away from the horrors of its period. But then, is it a screwball comedy? Is it an intriguing spy chase? Is it a cheesy love story? None of the above. It’s a fun two hours, regardless.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal