Strayed Andre Techine

Andre Techine is a spotty director, but when he's on, no one can touch him. Alas, his Strayed is eminently touchable. The outline shows some promise: a schoolteacher mother (Emmanuelle Beart) and her two children are making the exodus from WWII Paris when they're saved from German strafing by an illiterate 17-year-old drifter (Brotherhood of the Wolf's Gaspard Ulliel), who shows them how to survive. But though the film tries to suggest the social border crossing created by war, it blows it by making Ulliel a noble savage on a pedestal and Beart a sexually repressed worrywart who must inevitably succumb to the strapping young lad's charms. The film might have sidestepped this central flaw if it had any sense of the group's physical deprivations, but the film is far too pretty for that: Agnes Godard's cinematography is so gorgeously sun-dappled that it lacks any sort of menace at all, and of course the casting of movie-star beautiful Beart and Ulliel is harmful in giving the film credibility beyond the merely fantastic. I suppose it has some appeal as romantic fluff — there's a lot of empty but handsome speechifying, and the leads have a deliciously elegant sex scene — but those looking for any sort of analysis are left high and dry. How could the man who wove the class-crossing tapestry of Thieves have perpetrated such piffle? More to the point, how could this film have landed on disc when his brilliant Loin lacks North American distribution? Frustrated cineastes want to know. Extras include an interview with Techine and Ulliel that's largely insight-free, another with source novelist Gilles Perrault, who describes the social flux of war in more cogent terms than the movie, filmographies of the principals, storyboards for two scenes, colour and B&W photo galleries, and the trailer. (Wellspring,