French expat ex-chef now food consultant, Félix (Jean Reno), is caught up in strikes and delays at Paris airport enroute from the US to the Munich funeral of his ex-wife’s grandmother. Rose (Juliette Binoche), an award-winning beautician at the end of a long but abusive relationship with Sergio (Sergi Lopez), is trying to finally leave him to start a new life in Mexico. The stressed Rose loses her mobile while trying to arrange a goodbye note from the airport, and jet lagged Félix lends her his. This chance meeting of the two troubled, isolated souls sets off an evening and night of close encounters that change their lives.
Review by Louise Keller:
If the irresistible casting of Jean Reno and Juliette Binoche doesn’t suck you in, the playing out of this wonderfully wry romantic comedy about strangers igniting a spark in each other certainly will. A wonderfully nuanced piece of cinema by director Danièle Thompson and her writer son Christopher, about two opposite characters who prompt a change in each other, Jet Lag is sophisticated in its sensibilities, yet basic in its revelations about human emotions.
It’s funny, tragic and gloriously moving, with its humour arising from the very real situations that the characters find themselves in. Brought together by a mobile phone and stuck with each other through circumstance, little does either imagine the consequence. Félix has blinkered himself from anything sensory – except of the culinary kind, while Rose immerses herself in fragrance, hiding behind a thick mask of make-up. At every opportune moment, she takes out her mirror and make up brush to apply yet another layer, as if to add extra protection for her sensitive soul.
When we first meet her, she is chic personified, immaculately groomed, heavily made up with hair swept in a chignon and a Chanel make-up bag as her security blanket. Although his success is based on his Frenchness, Félix has subconsciously cut all emotional ties with his homeland; he can’t even finish a sentence in one language. The scene when Félix meets Serge is a classic. It’s a true case of foot in mouth. The humour comes from the irony, coupled by the fact we are in on the gag, as we sense that the personal message Félix relays to Rose (in front of Serge) is a stick of dynamite with the fuse ignited. Félix may be dressed in Armani, but he has a scruffy, unshaven look, relying on his mobile and links to his world to keep him intact. His obsession with food has a stranglehold on his life, shown clearly in such lines as ‘This pig died for nothing – the ham’s lousy.’
When the oil from the salad dressing becomes a dressing down and Rose is forced to take off her make up and let her hair down, the impact is more than superficial. We can see from the expression in Félix’s eyes that for the first time, he actually notices her as a woman. From room-service for two at the Hilton, when Félix and Rose sit on opposite sides of the table flinging barbs at one another, to an intimate tete-a-tete in the hotel’s kitchen, eating Félix’s cooking, it is much more than the body language that has changed. Reno and Binoche are superb – every nuance intact, with Reno concealing every emotion and Binoche displaying her heart on her sleeve. Sergi Lopez has just the right edginess as Serge (who can forget Harry He Is Here to Help?), and his cameo is powerful enough to impact the entire film. Jet Lag is an intimate film about appearances, emotions and what is real and not. It is my kind of film – a real pleasure.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Jet Lag is the sort of film you feel like clapping at the end. A superbly truthful screenplay drives wonderful performances in a shining example of how a romantic comedy can be not only hugely entertaining but exceptionally poignant, moving, sharp and grown up all at once. And economical; Jet Lag does more for our senses in 84 minutes than most studio made romantic comedies do in a year.
Director Danièle Thompson gives us a razor sharp and edgy film that defies all expectations, revealing character and emotion with powerful but simple cinema. We can never anticipate the characters’ next emotional response or move. It’s a two hander for Juliette Binoch and Jean Reno, both at their supreme best (the excellent Sergi Lopez has only one scene, but it’s a good one); everything hinges on these actors making us believe every second of the physical story as well as the emotional one, and they succeed admirably. The humanity – flawed individuals trying to survive through mistake-filled lives – is palpable and adds greatly to our enjoyment.
There isn’t a contrived moment or a false note, and it even carries its own happy ending insurance. See it and see.
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JET LAG (M)
CAST: Jean Reno, Juliette Binoche, Sergi Lopez
PRODUCER: Alain Sarde, Christine Gozlan
DIRECTOR: Danièle Thompson
SCRIPT: Danièle Thompson, Christopher Thompson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Patrick Blossier
EDITOR: Sylvie Landra
MUSIC: Eric Serra
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michele Abbe
RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 30, 2003
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE
VIDEO RELEASE: May 19, 2004