½*/**** Image C Sound A Extras N/A
starring Juliette Binoche, Jean Reno, Sergi López, Scali Delpeyrat
screenplay by Christopher Thompson & Danièle Thompson
directed by Danièle Thompson
by Walter Chaw A beautician (Rose (Juliette Binoche)) fleeing an abusive relationship and a frozen food magnate (Félix (Jean Reno)) on his way to the funeral for an ex-in-law meet when Charles de Gaulle Airport is shut down during some kind of labour strike. Bonding over a constantly ringing cell phone (ah, what's more romantic than a goddamned cell phone?), the unlikely twosome decides to share a hotel room, where Félix browbeats Rose into taking off some of her makeup, and Rose decides that she's already ready to settle down into another abusive relationship. With the airport forever threatening to open, Binoche and Reno move around various sets in exact two-shot medium compositions that find them spouting their deadening monologues at one another in a failed attempt to convince that they are actually occupying the same space, head or heart or otherwise.
There can be films drawn from static tableaux and spirited conversation, a contention proven to varying levels of success by such films as Wim Wenders's The State of Things, Richard Linklater's Waking Life, and Louis Malle's My Dinner with Andre. And while the Cary Grant/Ingrid Bergman starrer Indiscreet is sort of terrible in a compulsively watchable way, it seems to suggest that there can also be reasonably romantic films drawn from really bad ideas. The problems with Jet Lag (Décalage horaire) begin with the screenplay (by the mother-son team of Danièle and Christopher Thompson) and direction (by Danièle Thompson alone) and end with the fact that Reno and Binoche are not Grant and Bergman. In fairness, the resounding failure of the film has more to do with how implausible and relentlessly irritating the whole thing is, what with Félix's Victorian fainting spells ("It's nothing serious," an airport doctor reassures, leading one to believe that there's no malpractice in enlightened France) and Rose's shrill vanity.
When the conclusion comes, it comes courtesy a really long voicemail message that doesn't go like this, but should have: "Hey, it's me, Félix, but I guess you'd know that since you're listening to this on my cell phone which I've left in your pocket with the voicemail number and code--and I wanted to invite you to come live with me--an anal-retentive psychotic with anger management problems and a history of stalking ex-lovers and other abusive tendencies--and my estranged father, the uncompromising perfectionist who drove me from his house when I was a child. I know that you're on the rebound from a pig of a man who forced you to have an abortion, and I wanted to let you know that, even though I've spent every minute of the day we've had together demeaning you, controlling you, and taking advantage of you, I'll probably not force you to have an abortion someday--but all's fair in love and war, no?" Jet Lag is tripe so painful and misguided in its conception that purple hearts should be dispensed in the lobby for anyone who toughs it out for more than fifteen minutes. During its opening voiceover, Jet Lag announces that its premise is going to revolve completely around the idea of what it might be like to be in a Hollywood romance--which, while not making it a parody of a bad film instead of a bad film, at least demonstrates a certain decency in its desire to warn us. Originally published: June 13, 2002.
by Bill Chambers Jet Lag is available on DVD for import from Canada. I was eager to find out whether this TVA disc contained the Miramax'd or unexpurgated French cut of the film, and I still don't know: a dreaded PAL conversion wreaks havoc on the running time, as this TVA release clocks in at 81 minutes, reflecting the reported lengths of neither the 91-minute original version nor Miramax's 85-minute abridgement! The mysteries continue: the anamorphic widescreen transfer starts out with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 but pops to 1.85:1 after the main titles; the image reverts to 2.35:1 for the end titles, which plainly list Jet Lag as being "Filmed in Panavision." Despite this, the switcheroo does not have the slightest impact on compositions--you can't imagine the whole picture was ever intended for 'scope exhibition.
Colour and contrast are strong but detail bears that unmistakable PAL/Euro smudge, while the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is most impressive during the introductory Studio Canal+ logo, whose 360-degree soundfield makes for a wonderful demonstration piece. Although English subtitles accompany the main feature at your discretion, the 22-minute "Making of Décalage horaire: Un film de Danièle Thompson," 18-minute "Thompson & Thompson Interview," 8-minute "bloopers" reel, and 7-minute "Take 33/10.6" (the room service scene between Binoche and Reno in one unbroken take) are in untranslated French, an unfortunate trend of the Canadian video industry. (See also: the Brotherhood of the Wolf and Vidocq DVDs.) Jet Lag's English-language trailer--one of those desperately evasive western-market previews without dialogue--rounds out this disastrous digital rendering of a creepy movie.
81 minutes; R; 1.85:1 (16x9-enhanced); French DD 5.1; CC; English subtitles; DVD-5; Region One; TVA