Roman de gare (2007, Claude Lelouch)

Only thing I’d seen before by Lelouch was his fairly conventional and lightly enjoyable entry in Chacun son cinema, which it turns out was good preparation for this fairly conventional and lightly enjoyable film.

A meta-thriller without too many thrills of its own. I would’ve been shocked if the eminently likeable Dominique Pinon turned out to be a psycho killer and slaughtered down-on-her-luck chainsmoking hairdresser Huguette, as the movie kept implying he would. I also would’ve been shocked if the top-billed Pinon whose character is a ghostwriter and a former magician had NOT been faking his own death at the end, and had actually been killed by famous author Judith Ralitzer (Fanny Ardant of some unseen Resnais and Truffaut films from the 80’s). Judith’s suicide at the end was surprising though, and seemed tonally out-of-place. There’s no evidence that Judith was a potentially-murderous monster (it’s only implied), but we’re not supposed to be upset when she is driven to suicide… I was, a little.

Pinon is on his way to a yachting trip with Judith but stops along the way to stalk Huguette who is dramatically dumped in front of him at a gas station. He waits all night to give her a ride – not because he is the escaped magician serial killer whom the radio keeps mentioning, but because he’s researching roles for “Judith’s” next novel. Takes H. to her rural home and pretends to be her boyfriend for the benefit of her family, then continues to the yacht two days late, proclaims that he’s done ghostwriting for Judith and that this will be his own “first” novel, writes the book onboard, “falls” overboard, hides out for a year, then returns Fury-style during police questioning, gets Judith to kill herself, then gives Huguette a big kiss. Why did he disappear? The book would sell tons more copies as a Judith novel than as a Dominique Pinon novel, and I guess by returning he gets all the royalties, though the movie conveniently ends before explaining that part. Also, in a cute side-plot, Dominique’s sister’s husband (never seen) leaves her and she falls in love with the police detective to whom she reports the crime.

The fun of the movie is its fooling around with thriller conventions, with Dominique alternately set up as the killer, the ghostwriter, and the sister’s missing husband. Pretty good looking film, but nothing amazing. Seems like the kind of slick, enjoyable, not-too-foreign movie that could run at the Landmark for a couple weeks.

Related posts