***½/**** Image C+ Sound B
starring Vanessa Paradis, Daniel Auteuil, Frédéric Pfluger, Demetre Georgalas
screenplay by Serge Frydman
directed by Patrice Leconte
by Walter Chaw Patrice Leconte's immaculately-constructed Girl on the Bridge is a lovely, hopelessly romantic little bauble that catches the light no matter how you turn it. The picture stars gamine Vanessa Paradis as Adèle, a suicide girl broken by the lack of a soul mate and a flurry of Parisian bedsheets contemplating a George Bailey-style leap off the edge of a bridge. Her Clarence is Gabor (Daniel Auteuil), a professional knife-thrower who trolls for winsome targets looking to ride the eternity express; and together they paint the world a Fellini shade of red. The similarity is more than cosmetic: in its carnival-of-life (or better, life-as-carnival) atmosphere, the romance that develops between Gabor and Adèle is sublimated into the act of extended, trembling foreplay--lots of knives hurled at naked thighs and only a few nicks here and there to show for it. The act of actual sex is seen as something less than penetrating (Adèle pillow-hops like an adrenalized bunny), but when the pair rushes off to an abandoned train car to be alone, true intimacy only comes once Gabor starts in with the cutlery. Breathless in love like P.T. Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love or Fellini's Nights in Cabiria (which likewise sports a woman of loose morals looking for love in Rome), Girl on the Bridge, Leconte's lightest confection, manages still to convey the director's themes of the mystery of luck as it governs chance meetings and meaningful hits and misses.