An intricate puzzler in which murder is caprice and literature dead serious, 70-year-old French filmmaker Claude LeLouch's thriller is a small delight, a slick trifle (a roman de gare is an airplane novel) crammed with clever twists and razor-sharp performances.
Best-selling novelist Judith Ralitzer (Fanny Ardant) is in a police station, suspected of two murders and protesting her innocence. If she isn't a murderess twice over, asks her interrogator, then how did she come to be involved with two dead men?
Best-selling novelist Judith Ralitzer is on a TV talk show, promoting her hugely successful new novel, "God, the Other." How, asks her host, did she come to write such a profound and original thriller?
Needless to say, the novel and accusations are inextricably intertwined, as are several other stories that intersect in the front seat of a car belonging to one Pierre Laclos (Dominique Pignon). Pierre's passenger, the prickly Huguette (Audrey Dana), was abandoned at a rest stop by her fiance (Cyrille Eldin) as they were driving to her parent's farm in the French Alps. Pierre was… well, it's not exactly clear what Pierre was doing hanging around the rest stop, other than magic tricks for little girls. Huguette was reluctant to accept a lift from a stranger, but he was persistent and she was stranded. They watch the road unfold ahead and share secrets and lies: Huguette is a hairdresser who left her daughter, Sabrina (Shaya Lelouch), with to her parents so she could pursue a more exciting life in Paris. Celebrities dazzle her, men dump her and her parents make her feel like a failure. Pierre says he's Judith Ralitzer's ghostwriter, the unknown who wrote every book she's published in the last seven years, a claim he retracts almost immediately. So who is he? The fugitive serial rapist and killer who does magic tricks to lull his underage victims into a false sense of security? The high school teacher who vanished three days earlier, leaving behind a baffled wife and two children? Someone else entirely? Whoever he is, Huguette asks him to impersonate her fiancé for a day, at which point the film leaves the road for a detour into dark family farce humming with menace, especially when Pierre befriends Sabrina. Lelouch eventually draws all the threads together, and if the resolution verges on the preposterous it's also surprisingly satisfying.
Lelouch conceived this pulpy wisp of metafiction in the wake of two high-profile flops, securing his own financing and directing under the name of longtime friend Herve Picard, a professional tennis player. Only after the film was accepted at Cannes did he reveal himself, no doubt with the same quiet glee that accompanies each of the film's bravura turns. The result is a fresh, enjoyable diversion whose breezy pleasures are no less delightful for being disposable.
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- Released: 2007
- Rating: R
- Review: An intricate puzzler in which murder is caprice and literature dead serious, 70-year-old French filmmaker Claude LeLouch's thriller is a small delight, a slick trifle (a roman de gare is an airplane novel) crammed with clever twists and razor-sharp perform… (more)