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  Girl on the Bridge, The The Kindest Cut
Year: 1999
Director: Patrice Leconte
Stars: Vanessa Paradis, Daniel Auteuil, Frédéric Pfluger, Demetre Georgalis, Catherine Lascault, Isabelle Petit-Jacques, Mireille Mossé, Didier Lemoine, Bertie Cortez, Stéphane Metzger, Claude Aufaure, Farouk Bermouga, Nicolas Donato
Genre: Drama, Romance, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Adele (Vanessa Paradis) is being interviewed; she details her life story so far and her belief that luck never blessed her, including her choice in men, which was none too picky. She ran away from home as a teenager with a boy because she thought that by losing her virginity her life would truly begin, but it never turned out that way, and she was buffetted by the currents of the world until she decided that her existence had nothing to offer her anymore. This meant she planned to take her own life, but one night as she was standing precariously on the side of a bridge over the Seine, someone approached her...

And that someone was none other than French master thespian, Daniel Auteuil, or rather it was him playing the part of a knife thrower who has the power to cure potential suicides of their gloom. Gabor is his name, and if he is to be believed whenever he needs a new assistant for his act, he will head over to a "popular" spot where those wanting to kill themselves will go, and pick up whoever he finds there. This is presuming that whoever is a young and attractive woman, as we don't find out what Gabor would do if there was some old bloke standing there holding onto the hand rail - would he walk on by until a depressive with more showbiz potential happened by?

Ah, but you're not supposed to ask questions like that of The Girl on the Bridge, or La fille sur le pont as it was known originally. We're paying tribute to classic French cinema here, which explains why it's all shot in luminous black and white and it all seems so precious to the more cynical with its swooning romanticism and light dusting of fantasy magic. Once Gabor has saved Adele, and they have escaped from hospital (she jumped in, he jumped in after her, so they've both survived), he demonstrates that the luck she felt she was missing for so long has just turned up and he is the man to provide it for her. All she need do is put her trust in him and he will transform her.

Well, he gives her a makeover and a whole new wardrobe, which perks her up considerably, and then they do that most typical of things for this kind of film, they run away to join the circus. Gabor's knife throwing act is renowned across his profession, and we see after an encounter with a woman from his past that he is better than any therapist or psychiatrist as she has a sparkle in her eyes and is truly grateful to him for what he did for her. There doesn't seem to be a sexual side to these relationships as knife throwing is the substitute, and even the possibility of romantic love between Adele and Gabor doesn't arise until late on in the film when we're supposed to have got used to the idea of this man sweeping a girl young enough to be his daughter off her feet.

Some would say the true love affair here is between director Patrice Leconte's camera and Paradis herself, as he appears to be genuinely entranced by her, or perhaps the style which she inhabits her forlorn pixie-like character. The main theme of luck being an actual, almost physical quality suits the movie movie fashions of the piece, as when they are together Gabor can throw any number of knives and Adele will only result in a slight nick from one of them, while she can visit casinos and make a mint thanks to his talismanic presence. It's only when she loses faith in him on apparent impulse that it all goes wrong, although they remain psychically linked for reasons unclear. This is a lot more flimsy and airy-fairy than it might care to admit, but it has an attractive pictorial quality that means it's easy enough to watch if not listen to.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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