It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Jet Lag" is sort of a grown-up version of "Before Sunrise." In both films two travelers Meet Cute by chance and spend a long night in a strange city, talking and eating and flirting and concealing and revealing. The difference between the two films is sort of depressing.
In "Before Sunrise" (1995), Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy were young students and they wandered all over Vienna, encountering fortune-tellers, street poets and friendly bartenders. In "Jet Lag," Jean Reno and Juliette Binoche are meant to be 20 years older, and although they are in Paris they do not wander the streets or meet fascinating people, but huddle in airport lounges, hotel rooms and tourist restaurants. The younger people talk about reincarnation, dreams, death, etc. The older people talk about abusive boyfriends, parental alienation and cuisine.
That's the whole story, right there: The young people have their lives ahead of them and are filled with hope. The older ones are stuck with responsibilities, relationships, careers and fears. Although "Jet Lag" has a certain morose appeal, we cannot help thinking that this night they're spending together is the most interesting time either character has had in years, and if they get married, they will look back on it as if they were out of their minds.
There are, however, moments of intrigue. Some of them involve Binoche's makeup. If you know her from her many movies (she won the Oscar for "The English Patient"), you know she has a fresh, natural perfection. As we first see her in "Jet Lag," she is wearing too much makeup of the wrong kind, and it doesn't flatter her. Makeup is her business, in a vague way. At one point, she wipes it all off and looks younger and more beautiful. Because the director, Daniele Thompson, devotes a lot of the movie to the closeup scrutiny of her actors, this transformation has a fascination entirely apart from the character Binoche plays.