My nominee for the culprit would be the plot, which is convoluted and plodding. In short, Paris is in flux as the Nazis make their advances in 1940. A spoiled, petulant actress (Isabelle Adjani) travels with her new beau of convenience, the Prime Minister, played by a slim Gérard Depardieu. Meanwhile, her childhood friend (Grégori Derangère) - whom she inadvertently framed for murder - has escaped from jail.
On a crowded, desperate train, Derangère meets a comely university assistant (Virginie Ledoyen), who is meeting her professor to transport a nuclear bomb ingredient into safe hands. Everyone winds up in Bordeaux, a safe haven and the city where the Adjani character has taken up temporary residence. The convict still has feelings for his actress friend, despite the whole prison thing. Also in the city is Peter Coyote playing a journalist, who, while lusting after Adjani, works for the Nazis. There's also Derangère's companion, who is looking to pull a wine smuggling heist, as well as a deranged relative of Adjani's murder victim. And there's more after that.
Director Jean-Paul Rappeneau probably wanted to make a war epic with sweeping emotions and important conflicts, but he doesn't come close to capturing that. The sheer number of subplots and Rappeneau's urge to cover all of them, takes us away from the subplot with the most potential (Coyote's search for the bomb ingredient). The movie also prohibits the audience from fully sympathizing with -- or even knowing -- the characters.
Consider Adjani's character. The script, credited to five screenwriters, doesn't let the ageless actress rise above her character's spoiled behavior. It's tough to buy Depardieu and Derangère acting like Pavlov dogs around her. Yes, she's beautiful, but what else? Bon Voyage offers many conflicts, but it never offers more than a surface glance. There's too much going on, and in spite of that, there is a distinct lack of energy. People talk about war all the time in this film. My God, do they talk about it, but the fear and craziness that should be motivating these characters is absent. The recent remake of Dawn of the Dead perfectly portrayed those feelings. That's why it was scary, that's why you felt something was at stake as Milwaukee went to, or rather, became hell.
Ultimately, that is the biggest flaw in Bon Voyage -- it doesn't express any urgency or even an understanding that anything matters. You're smothered in love affairs and comic quirks and veiled threats, but you're always comfortable, cozy, and nearly bored to tears. And there's not a zombie to be seen.
Aka Later, Babe!
Run time: 114 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 16th April 2003
Box Office USA: $2.3M
Distributed by: Sony Picutres Classic
Production compaines: Cliché skateboards
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Fresh: 72 Rotten: 23
IMDB: 6.9 / 10
Director: Jean-Paul Rappeneau
Starring: Daniel Espinoza as Daniel Espinoza, JB Gillet as JB Gillet, Pete Eldridge as Pete Eldridge, Max Geronzi as Max Geronzi, Paul Hart as Paul Hart, Adrien Coillard as Adrien Coillard, Joey Brezinski as Joey Brezinski, Andrew Brophy as Andrew Brophy, Charles Collet as Charles Collet, Javier Mendizabal as Javier Mendizabal, Lem Villemin as Lem Villemin, Lucas Puig as Lucas Puig, Jeremie Daclin as Jeremie Daclin, Sammy Winter as Sammy Winter, Kevin Bradley as Kevin Bradley, Flo Mirtain as Flo Mirtain