Jet Lag


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The expression "only in America" is given a Gallic twist in Daniele Thompson's feather light rom-com. Only in France could such a frivolous tale of chance meetings and unlikely liaisons be elevated to this level of mature sophistication. It helps to have Juliette Binoche and Jean Reno looking more attractive than they have in ages and a screenplay by Daniele and Christopher Thompson that doesn't push the Escape button when things become tangled.

Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris. Chaos. Passengers lying about in heaps, stranded by strikes. Tempers frayed, the usual travel hell, only worse, because no-one's going anywhere.

Enter stage left Rose (Binoche), hair lacquered and high, complexion artificially enhanced by creams and powders, face painted to reproduce an ideal of perfection, only hinted at in magazines. She is a beautician, not a model, vain in a professional way, with an abusive boyfriend (Sergi Lopez) and a one way ticket to Acapulco.

Enter stage right Felix (Reno), hair hand-combed and too long for tidy, complexion ravaged by not enough sleep, face lean and crusted by two day growth. He is a chef, hypochondriac, workaholic and boss of a frozen food company, based in New York, who is trying to get to Munich for a friend's friend's funeral.

What brings these disparate characters together is a mobile phone. She drops hers down the loo, asks to borrow his; calls come in, calls go out; they find themselves forced into conversation and, eventually, an hotel room, not for what you think, but out of common decency - he couldn't let her spend the night on a bench in the airport.

The performances are sublime. The script throws in lines, such as "What scares me is mediocrity mixed with complication," and allows Rose to admit that she has been faking orgasms for years. It's deliciously grown-up, avoiding slapstick in favour of fortuitous mishap.

Endings are difficult at the best of times. Rom-coms rely on happy-ever-afters, giving the audience what it wants, cherries and icing and the whole damn bit, but this is France, where the concept of syrup-with-everything has not caught on amongst the gourmets of cine moderne.

The Thompsons, however, don't quite know how to say au revoir. The ending hangs in the air like a flag of truce after the seige has been lifted.

Reviewed on: 30 Oct 2003
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A lacquered beautician and an overstressed chef come together in the chaos of a crowded airport.
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Director: Daniele Thompson

Writer: Daniele Thompson, Christopher Thompson

Starring: Juliette Binoche, Jean Reno, Sergi Lopez, Scali Delpeyrat, Karine Belly, Raoul Billerey

Year: 2002

Runtime: 91 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: France


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