Girl On The Bridge

1999, Movie, R, 92 mins


A suicidal girl who believes she was born luckless and a washed-up knife thrower meet on a bridge and discover their shared destiny: This could only be one of those whimsically metaphysical romances in which the French specialize. And that's not entirely a criticism; at its best Patrice LeConte's fairy tale romance has a dreamy, fabulous quality that's surprisingly charming, given how thoroughly contrived it is. Though young, Adele (Vanessa Paradis) has already experienced a lifetime's worth of seduction and abandonment, and her fragile optimism has given way to the sort of despair that leads people to high bridges on bitterly cold winter nights. While gazing into the waters of the Seine, Adele is approached by the middle-aged Gabor (Daniel Auteuil), who rescues her when she takes the plunge and offers an unusual opportunity. He can tell she's special, he says, the sort of girl born to be a knife thrower's target. In fact, he continues, he can see that, regardless of her past experience, she was born lucky and needs only open herself to fortune's bounty; what better way to declare her faith in fate's benevolence than to stand before a board and let him hurl daggers at her? Reluctantly, Adele accompanies Gabor to a gig at a swank resort and emerges from the makeover he supervises with a gamine haircut and a stylish wardrobe. She's radiant, and their act is a hit. Adele's tentative foray into the casino is equally successful, a nonstop winning streak. But Adele's habit of throwing herself blindly into the arms of men (a train conductor, a contortionist, a newlywed... all they have to do is say the word) threatens to end their idyll. This rather obvious parable about soul mates benefits from luminous B&W cinematography, Paradis and Auteuil's luminous performances and the picturesque carny atmosphere. (In French, with English subtitles.) leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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