By Matt Langdon
Strayed is set in World War II during the German occupation of France. The setup is simple; a woman named Odile (Emmanuelle Béart), along with her two children, escapes a convoy that has been air attacked by German airplanes. They spend the night in the forest and the next day meet a teenager named Yvon (Gaspard Ulliel), who takes them to safety.
Yvon, who is on the run from both the Germans and the French, takes the family to an abandoned country chateau, which he has broken into. Over the course of a few weeks they begin to live in the chateau as a makeshift family. Yvon befriends Odile's son (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) and - much to the chagrin of Odile - becomes a father figure to the boy. And in time - even though Odile is Yvan's senior by many years - they both fall for each other.
If this were a Hollywood movie the two main characters would be Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert or Harrison Ford and Julia Roberts and they would hate each other at first but in time they would get together and all would end happily ever after. But this isn't Hollywood so instead we get a paranoid anti-social 17-year-old illiterate delinquent and a beautiful - and also paranoid - 30-something mother who we really don't yearn to see get together with this kid.
The only thing these two have in common - other than surviving the war intact - is that they both want stability back in her lives. And because of this they end up in each other's arms. However, due to the dynamic of the characters' personalities their relationship is not only odd but almost implausible. Despite this there is something interesting about an unlikely relationship developing between two "common people" who are war-weary; it smacks of real life.
Strayed, which is based on a novel by Gilles Perrault titled The Boy with Grey Eyes, is directed by André Techiné who has been better. But the film still has the sweep of a Téchiné film meaning the camera (operated by Agnes Godard) moves a lot, the shot selection is gorgeous, the editing is effortless and the script and acting have an effective authenticity.
Just like many of Téchiné's other films - which include Wild Reeds and Les Voleurs - Téchiné presents us here with impetuous characters who play out a psychodrama within a real life drama. Here he develops the characters and the situations quite well but the whole thing just lacks the kind of compassion that is needed for this kind of story.
The DVD includes a handful of interviews with the cast and crew.
Aka Les Égarés.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Wednesday 20th August 2003
Distributed by: Wellspring
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Fresh: 43 Rotten: 15
Cast & Crew
Starring: Tungyshbai Al-Tarazi as The Old Man, Ayganim Sadykova as The Old Man's Daughter, Andrey Merzlikin as The Man