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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. 

Published May 20, 2004

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(Décalage horaire)

CAST: Jean Reno, Juliette Binoche, Sergi Lopez

DIRECTOR: Danièle Thompson

SCRIPT: Danièle Thompson, Christopher Thompson

RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen; English & French

SPECIAL FEATURES: feature only


DVD RELEASE: May 19, 2004

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