"Questions of Identity"
The French movie ROMAN DE GARE is part mystery, part romance and part comedy. Directed by long-time filmmaker Claude Lelouch (A MAN AND A WOMAN), it is a mesmerizing, sometimes touching and hugely entertaining production, but it has foul language, sexual references and other issues that merit strong caution and discernment.
The story opens with a famous mystery writer, Judith Relitzer, being arrested by the police for the murder of her ghost writer. She is asked what happened, and the movie immediately cuts back to the past with a car speeding down the road. A radio host is playing old romantic songs from a popular French singer from the 1950s and 1960s. A news announcer comes on the air, telling the public that a serial killer and pedophile rapist has escaped. The news reporter says the killer likes to perform magic tricks for children. Meanwhile, a woman with two children tells the police that her husband has disappeared.
At this point, the viewer is shown people in two cars. In the first is a little middle-aged man with a beady, punched in face. The man stops at a gas station, where he performs a magic trick for the little girl of a couple walking by him.
In the second car is an engaged couple, Huguette and Paul, who are traveling to the countryside so that Huguette can introduce Paul to her family, including her 12-year-old daughter. Paul is upset about Huguette’s constant smoking, but soon the argument goes onto other issues. They continue their argument at the same gas station, with the little man watching them.
Suddenly, Paul gets really mad and drives off in the car without Huguette, and it’s her car! The little man offers her a ride but she declines. The next morning, the woman is still stuck at the station, but the little man, who calls himself Pierre, has stayed there too. He offers her a ride again, and Huguette accepts.
Eventually, Huguette asks Pierre to pose as her fiancé, Paul, for her mother’s sake. During the ride, however, the movie adds to its earlier suggestions that Pierre could be the serial killer or the husband who has disappeared. Then, Pierre tells Huguette that he is the ghost writer for her favorite mystery novelist, Judith Ralitzer. Then, he denies it after she becomes depressed upon hearing that news. The mystery of his real identity gets intense when Huguette’s daughter takes Pierre to catch some fish after Pierre charms her with a magic trick. Who is this guy really? And, is he a good man or an evil man of one kind or another.
ROMAN DE GARE could have been a really dark story, but Lelouch deftly adds some lighter touches, including some humor. He also directs his talented cast very well. The mysteries and plot twists in ROMAN DE GARE are truly enjoyable as they unravel, and are sometimes scary and suspenseful. The movie also has many comical moments, especially during Huguette and Pierre’s trip to her family’s farm. There are also a few religious connotations and positive references to God. For example, Huguette’s mother is a strong Roman Catholic anxious that her daughter’s fiancé believes in God. And, the movie’s final twist has positive moral qualities that might provoke some positive thinking among discerning viewers.
Despite the serial killer angle, there is no grisly violence in this movie. In fact, only one scene actually shows an adult person’s sudden death. In another scene, however, viewers hear the squeal of a pig being slaughtered, which is used to connote the danger that Huguette’s daughter might be in when she takes Pierre fishing. The movie also contains strong foul language, several sexual references and other mature content that merit strong caution. ROMAN DA GARE, by the way, is a French idiom for “airport novel.”
(Pa, B, C, LLL, VV, S, AA, D, M) Mixed pagan worldview with pagan elements, some moral elements, and mother of heroine is Roman Catholic and brief discussions about God arise but nothing particularly evangelical or biblical; 33 obscenities and a crude verbal sexual reference; one strong scene where person falls from great height and dies, squeals of pig being slaughtered are heard, shot of bloody pig carcass but camera does not linger on gore, man knocked overboard, threats of violence, news report about escaped pedophile rapist murderer; implied fornication in one scene, woman fakes sexual arousal in scene meant for comedy, crude sexual reference in one line of dialogue, light verbal references to prostitution, minor character abandoned by her husband has an affair with the police detective investigating his disappearance but nothing is shown, and news report mentions escape of pedophile criminal who murders his victims but nothing happens to any children during movie; upper male nudity and woman in bra; alcohol use and apparent drunkenness; smoking; and, deceit but in one instance the deceit is confessed to prevent injury to another person.
The French movie ROMAN DE GARE is part mystery, part romance and part comedy. Directed by long-time filmmaker Claude Lelouche (A MAN AND A WOMAN), the movie tells the story of a short middle-aged man who helps a younger woman abandoned by her fiancé at a gas station, on their way to visit her family’s farm. The woman asks the man to pose as her fiancé for the benefit of her mother, even though the man says he lied to her earlier about being the ghost writer of her favorite mystery writer. Was he actually telling the truth, or is he really an escaped rapist murderer? Or something else?
ROMAN DE GARE could have been a really dark story, but Lelouch deftly adds some lighter touches, including humor. The mysteries and plot twists in ROMAN DE GARE are truly enjoyable, and sometimes scary and suspenseful. Despite the serial killer angle, there is no grisly violence in this movie. In fact, only one scene actually shows an adult person’s sudden death. That said, the movie contains strong foul language, several sexual references and other mature themes that merit strong caution.