Jet Lag Movie Review

Rose (Juliette Binoche) is an accomplished beautician traveling to Acapulco to flee her rage-aholic boyfriend. Félix (Jean Reno) is a chef who's traveling to Munich to attend the funeral of his ex-girlfriend's grandmother, much to the dismay of his former lover. In Danièle Thompson's breezy romantic comedy Jet Lag, the two meet in a Parisian airport brought to a standstill by a public utilities strike, and it's not long before these opposites realize that, despite their first assessments of one another, they just might be a perfect match.

No one should fret over the fact that I've just revealed the film's ending, since all but the most novice filmgoers will deduce such a conclusion from Jet Lag's opening moments, in which we find Rose - who, to top off a bad day that's left her stranded indefinitely in the airport, has lost her phone down a toilet - asking to use Félix's cell. Decked out in stylishly alluring attire and an abundant amount of make-up, Rose seems, at first glance, to be a somewhat trashy primadonna. However, despite her appearance, Rose has set herself down a life-altering path - finally seizing the opportunity to break free from her no-good boyfriend's violent control - even though waiting for her flight provides numerous chances to give up the escape plan and return home, Stockholm Syndrome-style, to her tormentor.

Félix is a thrice-divorced perfectionist whose perpetually grumpy face perfectly matches his emotionally constipated life. Once a gourmet chef, Félix is now beginning a new career hawking a line of mediocre frozen foods, which is apt for a man whose outlook on life is decidedly chilly. Yet as such cinematic confections dictate, Jet Lag repeatedly thrusts Félix into Rose's life via his cell phone, which incessantly rings with Rose's calls long after the two strangers have initially parted ways. These calls are just the first of a number of divinely orchestrated chance encounters between the two, who eventually wind up sharing a hotel room together (outwardly claiming it's a platonic agreement, both subconsciously hoping for more) after they discover that their flights will be delayed until the morning.

Over a room service meal that Félix snobbishly deems sub-par, the two find that they can't stand each other - while she's a sensitive, needy extrovert who likes to comfort those who hurt her, he's a cranky businessman whose quirks include a vehement objection to the scent of women's perfume. But as the night goes on and their arguments force them to confront their own (quite obvious) shortcomings, the two find common ground on which to build a tenuous friendship. And as their spats gradually give way to googly-eyed stares, director Thompson (working from a script she wrote with Christopher Thompson) effortlessly alternates between farcical playfulness and sweet romance, guiding her accomplished stars through somewhat familiar territory with the no-frills ease such a story demands. Never allowing the film to be overrun by cloying sentiment, Thompson's nimble touch - seen in everything from the comical image of Félix that accompanies a magazine article about his business, to the cross-cutting of the film's fate-assisted finale - provides this romance with a shimmy and bounce that quickly allows us to ignore the hackneyed narrative formula at work.

Binoche brings a tender depth to the role of Rose, artlessly embodying a woman whose childhood dream of living out a Hollywood fairy tale has manifested itself in a habit for hiding behind layer after layer of eye-liner and blush. It's a lighthearted performance that perfectly complements Reno, whose competent turn as Félix is most notable for the way in which the actor never (save for the heartwarming ending) allows himself to look even modestly happy. That these charming French stars turn an otherwise predictable romance into something pleasantly diverting is no small feat, but Binoche and Reno's contentious chemistry gives Jet Lag an irresistible vivacity.

The DVD includes an English dubbed version of the film along with the original (subtitled) French.

Aka Décalage horaire.

After dinner, he shaves.

Comments

Jet Lag Rating

" OK "

Rating: NR, 2003

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