Juliette Binoche and Jean Reno are both terrific actors, but make an odd pairing for the slow and plodding French romantic comedy JET LAG. Yet, this sweet story has an undeniable warm charm and mature sensibility about it. As thousands of people are stuck in Paris’ de Gaulle airport due to poor weather and an air traffic controllers strike, two unlikely characters keep meeting each other. Is it fate, or just coincidence?
Felix and Rose (Reno and Binoche) seem destined to be acquainted. First, she borrows his cell phone after cleverly losing hers. Then, he takes calls from her family members who are trying to reach her. Finally, in one of the movie’s boldest and beautiful scenes, he steps in to rescue her from an abusive relationship. Hours later, Felix innocently offers to share his hotel room with Rose so that they both can rest for a few hours before catching flights to other countries. He is a talented chef with a nervous condition and she is a bold beautician running from a bad marriage. Of course, they have little in common. Of course, they are opposites in many respects. And, of course, they will fall for each other before the amusing closing credits roll.
While genuinely humorous at times, JET LAG dishes out diet-laughs rather than funny feasts. The humor tends to be more slapstick than brilliant or snappy dialogue, but the talented actors convey a sweetness and maturity to the story that is nearly absent in the script.
Capable leads aside, the real problem with JET LAG is the idea (however romantic) that two people could fall in love in such a short time together. Sure, people thrown together by stressful or traumatic experiences share a unique bond, but it seems contrived to call it love. On the other hand, this is, after all, a light-hearted romantic comedy.
To be fair, JET LAG is not entirely predictable. The main characters are both rebounding from bad relationships and life-long mistakes. To the writer’s credit, both set off to undergo personal changes before rushing into another relationship in their weakened state. These brief scenes near the end of the movie may confuse some viewers, but they are pivotal to the future success of Felix and Rose as a couple. It is as if each must get their own house in order before committing to a new and promising union.
Due to its theme and some content, JET LAG is recommended for mature audiences. Yes, it is a little slow and meandering at times, but the story has a tenderness that manages to come through. Maybe the movie poster should warn: “JET LAG may induce drowsiness, but it’s only a brief stopover to your final destination.”
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(RoRoRo, Cap, Fe, LL, V, S, NN, A, M) Strong Romantic worldview about "fate" bringing two lonely people together at a Paris airport, with some capitalist and feminist elements; 17 obscenities (five "f" words), one strong profanity, four exclamations of "My God," and brief scene of woman using a toilet; violence includes man with temper slamming silverware onto a table and some talk of an abusive relationship; couple shown lying on bed together (clothed), couple kisses passionately while lying on a bench, brief scenes and audio of a porn channel (with no nudity shown), and references to woman faking sexual arousal; brief upper female nudity of woman lying in bed and brief rear nudity as woman leaves swimming pool; alcohol use; no smoking or drug use; and, lying to husband rebuked, man reconciles with distant father after 20 years, and man offers to share hotel room with tired woman.
GENRE: Romantic Comedy