Published Aug 01, 2003Watching Jet Lag is like watching a child colour a picture: at first there's a kind of feathery outline around flat and hollow shapes. The shapes begin to fill with colour and the picture comes to life. In the end, the shading's a little uneven, straying a little too far out of the lines, but it's still something you want to put up on your fridge.
Called Decalage Horaire in its original French, Jet Lag was written and directed by Danièle Thompson. Thompson is what you might call family-oriented. Her first film in 1966 she co-wrote with her famous French comedian father Gérard Oury. La Grande Vadrouille (Don't Look Now We're Being Shot At) has been the top-grossing film in France for the last 30 years. Followed by a string of successes and award nominations, in 1999 Thompson made her directorial debut for La Bûche (Season's Beatings), also co-writing the script with her son Christopher. Jet Lag is only her second time in the director's chair, and her second script with Christopher.
Minimalism is key in Jet Lag. With a cast of about two-and-a-half characters, it takes place almost exclusively in two locations: an airport and the adjoining hotel. During an exceptionally bad day at Paris's Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, two very different passengers heading in two very different directions can't seem to avoid one another. Tossed together repeatedly via various circumstances, Rose (Juliette Binoche) and Félix (Jean Reno) develop an accelerated relationship that changes both of their lives.
In many ways this film is childlike in its honesty: the plot is occasionally frustrating and melodramatic, but always endearing; the setting is deceptively simple; the characters are vulnerable and sometimes uncomfortably candid Binoche (The English Patient, Chocolat) and Reno (The Professional, Ronin) shine, as always, in these challenging roles. If there is one flaw in this film, it's that it loses some of this sincerity at the last moment. In the end, what you have is a very pretty, if imperfect, picture. (Lions Gate)