Bon Voyage is a good journey

By Chris Beauchamp

Ze Germans are coming… and France surrenders.

The scene is France, 1940. The protagonist is an aspiring novelist, and the plot is convoluted. Bon Voyage follows the exploits of Frederic during the frantic wave of migration caused by the German advance into France. Unable to be with Viviane, the self interested, manipulative actress he loves, and equally unable to give up on her, Frederic finds himself torn and ass deep in a world of trouble.

The film opens with Viviane’s late night plea to Frederic for help with a corpse of one of her other lovers. In the first of many lies, she tells Frederic the dead man fell.

He fell alright, but only after she’d shot him. Frederic falls for it though, blinded by his devotion to the woman who will never care about him. The body goes into the trunk of his car and he agrees to dump it. Unfortunately, his car crashes in the rain, the trunk pops open and our boy Freddy takes the fall.

As the Germans advance into Paris, Frederic’s captivity is short lived as he finds an opportunity to escape in the ensuing chaos. The plot only gets thicker from there, with an array of interesting, if somewhat cliched characters contributing to the complexities of the plot. There’s the government minister, the escaped convict, the German spy–and those are just the ones sleeping with the movie star. To further complicate things, there’s also the old physics professor, his beautiful young assistant and their car full of atomic grade heavy water–a crucial prerequisite in constructing an A-bomb.

The Germans want the heavy water, the French government wants to surrender, everybody wants to sleep with the movie star and Frederic doesn’t know what he wants. Dodging the authorities for a murder he didn’t commit, trying to score the girl he’s obsessed with, and embroiled in intrigue upon intrigue, Frederic’s woes do make for interesting viewing.

At times comical in the tradition of hectic French farce, Bon Voyage is a consistently entertaining historical drama. The acting is solid throughout with a heavyweight French cast including Gerard Depardieu and Virginie Ledoyen. It’s definitely worth a watch but beware for those of you who hate subtitles and don’t speak French. It’s chocked full of both, but with a healthy dose of whimsy.

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