Roman de Gare

"Weak"

Roman de Gare Review


Burdened by narrative congestion and a half-dozen false twist endings, Claude Lelouch's Roman de Gare (literally translated as Novel of Station) takes an unhampered approach to the literary thriller genre and in turn depletes its characters and ambitions of any urgency.

Best known for the one-time French hit A Man and a Woman, Lelouch begins his latest film with a singular female: Judith Ralitzer (Fanny Ardent), a celebrated novelist who has gained critical acclaim for her latest novel God, The Other. On a talk show, she rambles about the creative process and the hardships of imagination but neglects to mention that it's all a hoax. Ralitzer's book was in fact written by a ghostwriter named Pierre Laclos (Dominique Pinon).

As Ralitzer takes a holiday on her expensive yacht with wine and cheese platters, Pierre finds himself at a rest stop attempting to console Huguette (Audrey Dana), a stranger whose fiancée dumped her there and left with the car. Giving her a lift to her parents' house, Pierre is propositioned to pretend to be Huguette's husband-to-be for the sake of her overly-critical family of farmers, not to mention the daughter that she left behind with them. And then there's some nonsense about a murderer of young girls trotting around the French countryside.

Has the act of ghostwriting drained Laclos of persona? At any given time in the film, Pierre is accused of being a perverted murderer, a ghostwriter, an actual writer, a big phony, an object of desire, and an accountable brother. But if the fundamental idea of Lelouch's thriller is to simply question the identity of the otherwise pleasant Pierre, it makes for poor case study. Pinon is a great actor, and he's great here, but what is he to do with a director who doesn't know what he wants and a script that asks us to care about hushed facets of society without allowing any access to their inner workings? From what Lelouch offers, ghostwriting is about as exciting as a summer internship at the local public access network.

Roman de Gare, inanely titled Crossed Tracks for the American set, is humid and indecisive, but calling it unwatchable is a bit hasty. Pinon, a regular of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's films, has an indefinable ability to keep things interesting even when his character seems bored by the story. And though blandly shot by cinematographer Gerard de Battista, Lelouche at least has the decency to keep things moving and keeps the pacing light, with an even stride. But where the director's filmmaking zips along, the narrative feels makeshift and haphazard with an ending that is equal parts happy and preposterous. In a year that has already seen nouvelle-vague mainstay Jacques Rivette passionately return in triumph, Lelouch's retread feels like filmmaking for filmmaking's sake.

Now write us a movie, Fanny.



Roman de Gare

Facts and Figures

Run time: 103 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 27th June 2007

Box Office USA: $1.7M

Distributed by: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Production compaines: Samuel Goldwyn, Les Films 13

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 65 Rotten: 9

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Pierre Laclos, Audrey Dana as Huguette, la « midinette », as Judith Ralitzer, Shaya Lelouch as la fille d'Huguette, as la mère d'Huguette, Michèle Bernier as Florence, la sœur de Pierre Laclos, Zinedine Soualem as le commissaire, Cyrille Eldin as Paul, le « fiancé » d'Huguette, Gilles Lemaire as le capitaine du bateau « Roman de gare », Marc Rioufol as le propriétaire du vignoble en Bourgogne, as lui-même, William Leymergie as la voix de la radio Autoroute info, Marine Royer as Patricia

Also starring:

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