Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Road Games: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Calais
you ever suspected the Richard Linklater “Before” trilogy would be better with
less talking and more psycho-killers, than here’s’ the proof you have been
waiting for. A scuffling British slacker and an attractive French hitchhiker
decide to tag along together, because maybe they are sort of interested in each
other. They can also watch each other’s backs, since a serial killer has been
preying on hitchhikers and the motorists who stop for them along the quiet
highways of the rural Northern provinces. However, things really get awkward
when a strange older couple take them in for the night in Abner Pastoll’s Road Games (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York at the IFC Center.
has had a hard time of it in France, losing pretty much everything but his
passport and the clothes on his back. Véronique is not having much fun either, especially
when the driver who picked her up stops to get fresh (or foul). Fortunately,
Jack happened along in time to intervene. As a result, Véronique feels safe
enough to join forces with him. Rather inconveniently, the recent rash of
roadside killing (of which the British Jack is blissfully unaware) have made
most motorists understandably reluctant to pick up hitchers. Apparently Bruno
Grizard is an exception.
generates all kinds of suspicious vibrations, especially when he stops to grab
the rabbit he just crushed, to turn it into stew. The talkative driver invites
them to spend the night as guests in his large manor house. His American wife
will be delighted he assures them. Jack couldn’t leave for Britain until
morning anyway, because a strike has been called for the docks of Calais. That
sounds a little fishy to the Brit, but this is France, so you never know.
Grizard is most definitely high-strung, but she seems to take a liking to Jack.
Nevertheless, the already strained atmosphere gets even tenser as the night
goes on. It is pretty safe to assume the serial killer is in the house, but
Pastoll will engage in all kinds of misdirection to keep us barking up the
Road Game has played a few high
profile horror festivals, it is really more of a Hitchcockian suspense film, but
that is a much trickier vibe to pull-off. Yet, Pastoll manages it quite
adroitly. French and English bilingual fluency might actually sabotage the
enjoyment of this film, because miscommunication and mistranslation are slyly employed
to keep certain characters and the audience in the dark.
cast is also first-rate starting with the legendary Barbara Crampton, who seems
to be having a second career renaissance with films like We Are Still Here and You’re
Next. She is perfectly elegant and agitated, yet also rather sultry.
Essentially, it is Andrew Simpson’s job to be rather vanilla as Jack, but Joséphine
de La Baume’s Véronique has some sort of femme fatale thing going on that
definitely heats up the screen. Likewise, as Grizard, Frédéric Pierrot is not
exactly shy when it comes to chewing the scenery (nor would we want him to be
bashful in a genre film such as this).
Even though there is a considerable amount of
sunlight in Road Games, Pastoll and
cinematographer Eben Bolter still give it a sinister, almost Giallo-worthy
look. There is no question Pastoll plays us, but he does it well, so it is hard
to resent him for it. In fact, it is really quite a lot of fun. Highly
recommended for fans of serial killer movies and psychological suspense, Road Games opens tomorrow (3/4) at the
Labels: Barbara Crampton, Serial killer movies