Published Jan 01, 2006An elaborate, playful story that uses World War II as an accessory, Bon Voyage is not about war, but rather about what war does to people, and what people do to each other.
While life in France is complicated with an impending war, the life of silver screen goddess Viviane (Isabelle Adjani) is complicated with myriad suitors. Everyone is in love with the vacuous flirt, including the ardent government minister Beaufort (Gerard Depardieu); the mysterious Andre Arpel (Nicolas Vaude); the quixotic Frederic Roger (Gregori Derangere); and the wily journalist Winckler (Peter Coyote).
The night of Viviane’s premier is an eventful one, as Beaufort declares his admiration, and she is chased back to her apartment by a fuming Arpel. Later that night, Frederic Roger answers a call at his decrepit rooming house. Viviane, his childhood sweetheart, needs a hand disposing of Arpel’s body. He agrees, only because he is a smitten fool, and because Viviane says Arpel died from an accidental fall.
But Roger’s luck is not so good, and he is caught with the body. His lawyer, who informs Roger that Arpel died from a bullet wound, is called up to serve in the army, and Roger is left to rot in prison. With the Germans about to invade France, Viviane flees with the upper crust to Bordeaux, and prisoners are paired up for transferral to the provinces.
Roger is paired with the crafty criminal Raoul (Yvan Attal), who liberates them from their shackles using a bent fork. As Roger makes his way to Bordeaux to find Viviane, he meets the virtuous Camille (Virginie Ledoyen) and her endangered physics professor Kopolski (Jean-Marc Stehle).
Meanwhile, Viviane has made a careful move in getting involved with the staid Beaufort, thereby securing herself a room in Bordeaux that is crammed to capacity with anxious exiles.
Bon Voyage is a fun, humorous film with a cast of comical characters. While Viviane is mind-numbingly shallow, and Roger stupefying dense, they are still entertaining to watch. The camera does have a tendency to bounce around with the jumpy characters, which can be unsettling, but elements of noir are enough to soothe the senses — from the femme fatale to the looming catastrophe of then-little known atomic energy. (Mongrel Media)