Magazine article Screen International

Just A Sigh

Magazine article Screen International

Just A Sigh

Article excerpt

Dir/scr: Jerome Bonnell. France-Belgium. 2013. 106mins

If there's a gestational quota for pregnant glances, writer-director Jerome Bonnell makes the most of it in Just A Sigh ( Le Temps de l'aventure), the carefully made and very well acted tale of a fling set in Paris on the longest day of the year. Predicated in large part on the notion that most any 43-year-old French woman -- in this case, an actress played by Emmanuelle Devos -- would find Gabriel Byrne's lived-in lookes irresistible, the film will play like a pleasing fantasy to most and a borderline parody of a French movie to some.

If anybody's planning a 'Movies Set During One Day' film festival, this would be a fine addition.

This 21st century Brief Encounter-mit-bonking, which figures in the Tribeca competition line-up, has met with reverent critical approval in France and promising local attendance since its April 10 release.

Alix (Devos), who is performing in an Ibsen play in Calais, takes the train to Paris at the crack of dawn for an audition and is due back on stage that night. It's June 21st, the annual anybody-can-perform-anywhere Fete de la Musique which is as good an excuse as any for the otherwise incongruous musical acts that sometimes punctuate the romantic proceedings.

On the train, Alix spots a fellow passenger (Byrne, whose character's name is long left unspecified). She keeps stealing glances at him and he seems neutral or slightly pained rather than intrigued.

When the train pulls in to Paris, Byrne asks in adequate French whether she speaks English and requests directions to a specific church. Another passenger obliges, but Alix now knows where the mysterious man is headed. Alix goes to her audition -- an amusing set piece in which she shows her range when a desultory assistant has her play the same scene twice.

She should meet her mother for lunch and then hop back on a train but instead proceeds to the church where the reason for Byrne's melancholy expression is revealed. Alix half-loiters, half stalks him while various clocks indicate the passage of time.

When they do speak it's in English although flighty-cum-determined Alix probably couldn't articulate quite what she's up to in any language.

An overheard conversation supplies her with the name of his hotel and after a few amusing obstacles are overcome, bingo. …

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