Jet Lag: a Cinematic Treat
Rob Levy
7/13/2003 4:35:04 PM

It is really remarkable that two stalwarts of contemporary French film, Juliette Binoche and Jena Reno, have not been on the screen in tandem before Jet Lag. Director Daniele Thompson had the right idea by casting them in this taciturn comedy, considering that they both have box office clout in France and are recognized faces in the States.

Jet Lag centers around two main characters, Rose, a beautician who is running to Mexico to flee from a failed abusive relationship, and Felix, a French emigre who is in transit, via Paris, to attend a funeral where he hope to meet with his ex and repair things. This is the backdrop for this consuming, funny French comedy.

Felix, a chef with new line of frozen foods and a distinctly unhealthy disposition towards his native France, has failed two marriages and wants to go to Munich to fix his latest debacle. His dark countenance and stern intensity make him cross, irritable and grumpy. When Rose (Binoche), loses her mobile phone, she crosses into his world with her brash, nervous, and radiant anxiety. At the time they meet at a Charles De Galle terminal, all airlines are running.

As fate would have it, however, there are workers' strikes, delays and even bad weather along the way. These stalls make it possible for the Rose and Felix to duke it out, work through their neurosis, become friends, and even like each other.

Reno has worked hard to shed his tough image. His work in films like The Professional, Leon and Ronin, have made him recognizable in the States. Here he plays Felix as this intense and quietly enigmatic broken man. Felix can cook and he can converse, but his stress, emotional frailty and terseness make him somewhat of a loner.

Binoche is the perfect counterbalance for Reno's Felix. Binoche has been bankable in Hollywood thanks to her Oscar (The English Patient) and her star turn in Chocolat. Rose is the perfect center for Felix. She is nice, needy, determined, quirky, yet horribly damaged and scared.

The two leads trade lines and weave between scenes remarkably well. Jet Lag is a well-scripted, nicely-paced, tight little film. It clocks in at just under 90 minutes, but it does rush by. Yes, there are tense moments of conflict and brooding, but they are tempered with some scenes of amazing quiet poise and beauty. Binoche always radiates any film she is in and Reno brings a reserved charm to the proceedings that make this a nice respite in a summer of special effects films.

Jet Lag is French without being too French. It is a souffle of romantic comedy. It's a film that confronts the battle of the sexes while meshing in comedy, fun, food and nervousness. Before you know it you are boondoggled into a nice cinematic treat.


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