the rainy climate and the subject matter, performing a regional production of
Ibsen in Calais must be depressing. It
is a gig, but Alix has yet to be paid for it.
Her career is not going so well and her personal life is rather rocky
too, so when she meets a handsome stranger she cannot help wondering “what if”
in Jérôme Bonnel’s Just a Sigh (trailer here), which screens
during this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
and a quiet, sensitive looking man are both taking the train from Calais to
Paris. She hopes to re-establish some
order in her finances and have a long talk with her partner. Maddeningly, he just does not seem to be
around. Yet, as fate would have it, she
again crosses paths with the man with the sad eyes. Douglas has come from Britain for the funeral
of a Parisian college friend. Despite
his very real grief, he is undeniably attracted to Alix. Things do indeed run their course, but both
are reluctant to let go of the moment.
Sigh revisits the familiar terrain of
Brief Encounter and other short but
sweet cinematic trysts. However, Bonnel’s
mostly French language film is unusually mature, sophisticated, and frankly
kind of hot, in a middle aged way. The
on-screen chemistry between co-leads Emmanuelle Devos and Gabriel Byrne is
quite powerful. Devos shows considerable
flexibility, segueing from Alix’s scatter-brained rushing about to her
massively smoldering scenes with Byrne.
For his part, the Irish actor radiates tragic dignity as her temporary
Sigh is a deceptively
simple story, implying years of frustration and regret with a glance. Gorgeously lensed by Pascal Lagriffoul, it is
seamlessly elegant package. Paris never
looked better on film and every love scene should be so tastefully staged as
those found here. Bonnel only errs
giving too much screen time to Alix’s condescending family, because they break
his intoxicating spell.
romantic but never sentimental, Just a
Sigh is exactly the sort of French film French cinema connoisseurs love to
love, harkening back to the cross-over appeal of A Man and a Woman. Featuring
Byrne, arguably a bigger star today as result of his TV work on In Treatment and Vikings, it should be a no-brainer acquisition candidate. Enthusiastically recommended, Just a Sigh screens again this Sunday
(4/21), Thursday (4/25), and next Sunday (4/28) during the 2013 Tribeca Film
Labels: French Cinema, Gabriel Byrne, Tribeca '13