This disturbing and brilliant new film by renowned French filmmaker Patrice Leconte - director of such films as Monsieur Hire, The Hairdresser's Husband, and Ridicule - follows the tale of Adele, a lovelorn girl who has been through too many one night stands and promises of purposes. She remarks in an unflinching five-minute opening monologue, "I see my future like a waiting room in a train station, and I sit there waiting for something to happen." In this grim monologue, the director Leconte portrays Adele, played with striking beauty and prose by French singer Vanessa Paradis, as neither a slut nor a vixen but as an emotionally confused girl who doesn't understand the difference between love and sex.
Later, Adele ends up later that night on the edge of a bridge overlooking the Seine, contemplating the murky waters below. From the darkness appears an older man named Gabor, played by the great French actor Daniel Auteuil, a knife-throwing expert in need of an assistant for his performances. He tries to persuade Adele from jumping but she ends up in the river; naturally, he saves her. While in the hospital, Gabor convinces Adele that her luck is changing by demonstrating his extrasensory talents. She joins him as his assistant, and during their first performance, Adele develops a telepathic link with Gabor that directs his blades.
Their journey continues to places such as Monaco and San Reno as Adele and Gabor use their clairvoyance to win big at casinos and amaze audiences with the knife-throwing performances. But their relationship sours because of the attention Adele gets, and the film gets more disturbing from there.
Director Patrice Leconte chose the shoot the film in black and white to add to the timelessness of the picture. He also chose a variety of music, such as Benny Goodman, Marianne Faithful, Brenda Lee, and the Istanbul Oriental Ensemble, to make the movie sound quite diverse. The tight dialogue follows a solid pattern of delivering poignancy with the pretensions of the subject matter as Adele and Gabor subconsciousness move towards each other's hearts and minds. The telepathic connection between the characters is handled with conviction and makes you believe that the link is solely derived from the unity of the two minds and hearts.
The film also holds distinct elements of a dream state. The first moments of the film give ground for interpretation that the mysteries and travels of Adele are in fact the fantasies of a lonely and depressed girl looking for something, anything in this world. The direct honesty of Gabor and his unadulterated feelings for Adele seem to reach out to the audience and pull them into the complexity of his love and desire for this woman. His words are brutal but fair and demand no sympathy from Adele.
Admittedly, French cinema is a tough beast to understand. The stark dialogue is uncommon in American cinema and the development of characters is sometimes without a roadmap and lacks the emotional shortcuts of Hollywood. Good French cinema is powerful and demands your attention for full appreciation. Give Girl on the Bridge all of your mind.
Aka La fille sur le pont.
Girl on the wheel.
Run time: 90 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 31st March 1999
Distributed by: Paramount Classics
Production compaines: Hugo Haas Productions
Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 36 Rotten: 4
IMDB: 7.6 / 10
Director: Patrice Leconte
Producer: Christian Fechner
Screenwriter: Serge Frydman
Starring: Hugo Haas as David, Beverly Michaels as Clara, Robert Dane as Mario, Anthony Jochim as Mr. Cooper, John Close as Harry, Darr Smith as Councilman
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