Judith Ralitzer (Fanny Ardant) is a novelist and femme fatale seeking characters for her next best-seller. In the meantime, a serial killer has just escaped from a high-security prison.
Their paths will cross in French director Claude Lelouch's crafty, twisty thriller Roman de Gare, a film that takes twists and turns and features a number of characters along with a timeline that skips back and forth.
If you follow it, will you explain it to me?
Okay, I'm kind of kidding there. Kind of.
Roman de Gare is a thinking person's thriller, film that seems to take delight in its twists and turns that often seem as much about the twists and turns as they are about actually creating a cohesive story. There are so many things that happen in the story, sometimes they are connected and sometimes they are not. Ardant, for example, is seen in the film being interviewed at a police station about the disappearance of her housekeeper, while a hairdresser, Huguette (Audrey Dana), has a vicious argument with her boyfriend and is left abandoned at a gas station without her money, her keyes or anything else. She will encounter a character, or characters, played by Dominique Pinon. This character first tries to cheer Huguette up, but this doesn't work. While hesitant to leave, Huguette eventually realizes her boyfriend is not returning and accepts a ride from this mysterious stranger who, having been listening to the radio, announces that a serial killer has escaped from the nearby prison.
Yeah, you know where this is going.
But really, you don't.
Headed to her family's farm, Huguette asks this stranger to play her fiance'.
Give it up. You don't really know what is about to unfold.
Roman de Gare was Lelouch's 49th film and it's awesome to see the director having continued to crank out thought-provoking, challenging and effective cinema even if the film doesn't quite fire on all cylinders.
While one could possibly argue that Pinon is asked to do too much here and it mildly dilutes his work, it's also true that Pinon makes the most of it and crafts multiple shades of an intriguing human being. Audrey Dana is a revelation, while Fanny Ardant creates kaleidoscope of characters and emotions throughout the film.
Roman de Gare has been picked up by First Run Features for a DVD release and for those who fancy themselves a Lelouch fan it will likely be a flawed yet memorable viewing experience.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic