Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
The Nazi occupation of France may seem like a strange backdrop for an adventure comedy, but consider how "Casablanca" found humor, irony and courage in a related situation. Not that "Bon Voyage" is "Casablanca," but it proceeds from the same cynicism, and unites the worlds of politics, science and the movies. It also provides Isabelle Adjani with one of the best roles of her career, as a movie star who will do anything, say anything, and sleep with anybody, first to further her career and then to save her life.
The movie is a lavish, expensive period production by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, who also made Gerard Depardieu's rabble-rousing "Cyrano de Bergerac" in 1990 and the exhilarating "The Horseman on the Roof" (1995). Depardieu returns in "Bon Voyage," and he is an unmade bed no longer; he is astonishingly slimmed down, his hair trimmed and slicked back, wearing the tailored suits of a cabinet minister.
The movie opens in Paris, as the Nazis are moving into the city and many prudent citizens with the means or clout are moving to Bordeaux, which they think might be Nazi-free, at least for a while. Adjani plays Viviane Denvers, a great movie star and apparently an even greater lover. To say that she looks much younger than her 48 years is not flattery but the simple truth; Adjani was able to play a convincing teenager in "Camille Claudel" (1990). Here her character functions instinctively as a woman who is attracted to men who offer her money and safety. Her fatal flaw is that she is also attracted to men she loves. These tastes become thoroughly confused during the film, as she seeks money, safety and love simultaneously, which means that no one man is going to be able to fill the bill.
Jean-Etienne Beaufort (Depardieu) is the harassed cabinet minister she's attached to as the movie opens. As some ministers urge collaboration with the Nazis, he commands a car and Viviane joins him on the exodus. But then she is astonished to see a childhood friend named Frederic (Gregori Derangere) on the streets -- astonished, because she thought he was in jail, charged with murder. Such is her power over men that, some days earlier, after she murdered a blackmailer in her apartment, she called him up and because he had always been in love with her, he allowed the police to arrest him. He's free because his jailers helpfully released their prisoners ahead of the Nazi advance.