January 1, 2005 -- “Bon Voyage” is a wacky screwball comedy set in France during World War II, not the likeliest setting for a comedy, but it works. The story is a mad merry go round of politicians, actresses, writers, spies, police and atomic scientists, all trying to outwit each other and get out of France before the German army gets to Bordeaux in June of 1940.
Writer Frédéric Auger (played by Grégori Derangère) does a favor for his old flame, movie star Viviane Denvers (Isabelle Adjani) against his better judgement. He ends up in jail for his trouble, charged with murder. In the confusion of the invasion of France he is able to escape with a fellow inmate, and the two are able to make it to Bordeaux, where Auger falls in with local organized crime gangs. Viviane has also made it to Bordeaux with her lover, a powerful government official, Jean-Étienne Beaufort (played by famed actor Gérard Depardieu). Also appearing in the movie is American actor Peter Coyote, who plays the part of Alex Winckler.
Auger spots Viviane in Bordeaux and tries to get her to tell the truth and get him off the hook for the murder charge, but the self-centered Viviane is a pathological liar as well as being dizzy. She seems incapable of ever clearing Auger's name. Auger then becomes involved in smuggling top-secret atomic equipment and scientists out of the country and battling German spies. Auger tries to use Viviane's government connections to get safe passage out of France for the scientists. At the same time, a relative of the man that Auger is accused of killing is chasing Auger around Bordeaux, seeking revenge. Auger is also being chased by the police.
The story is not believable, but it sure is fun. The twists in the plot are mind-boggling. There is simply no telling where the story will go next. A lot of the comedy in the story is due to the mixing of high society, spies and criminals together in one place and time. This is one nutty, but enjoyable movie. The film has a nice soundtrack, beautiful photography and high production values. This is a very glossy production, but it always maintains a very light comic tone. It is a surprisingly entertaining movie. The film is directed by veteran French director Jean-Paul Rappeneau (“Cyrano de Bergerac”). This film rates a B.
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