Jet Lag (2002) / Romance-Drama
aka Decalage horaire

MPAA Rated: R for language, nudity and sexuality
Running Time: 91 min.

Cast: Juliette Binoche, Jean Reno, Sergi Lopez
Director: Daniele Thompson

Screenplay: Christopher Thompson, Daniele Thompson
Review published February 13, 2004

It's a bit of an irony to see Jet Lag start off mentioning American romantic comedies, and in particular, Roman Holiday, a film where two people fall in love while traveling around and seeing magnificent sights.  Jet Lag is the antithesis of that film, featuring two people who never really get to travel anywhere together, and spend most of their time getting on each other's nerves, but still manages to be a romance all the same.

Juliette Binoche (Chocolat, Blue) is the beautician Rose, and Jean Reno (Leon, Rollerball) is Felix, a former chef turned entrepreneur, who both meet in an airport in France while traveling to different destinations.  They are both in dead-end relationships, with Felix trying desperately to breath life into a relationship with his ex, and Rose struggling with leaving her abusive boyfriend.  Felix assists Rose in getting her physically away from the relationship, and also offers her a hotel bed to sleep in when both of their flights are delayed overnight.  Stuck together for the evening, the two don't really have much in common at first, but they try to make the best of things, since it's only a short amount of time before they never have to see each other again.

Daniele Thompson (Queen Margot) directs and co-writes (along with her son Christopher) this amiable romantic drama, with a good deal of humor thrown in.  Unlike most American romantic comedies, Jet Lag is a very verbose affair, taking place mostly within the confines of an airport lobby and a hotel room, and could very easily have been a play instead of a movie. It is a French movie, after all, which usually leans heavily on characterizations and dialogue to get most of its point across.  Also, don't expect this to be a laugh-a-minute endeavor, despite the clever marketing.  This is much more of a drama than a comedy, although it does have a good share of moments of humor.

Jet Lag will be of particular appeal to fans of Binoche and Reno, especially in seeing them in the type of frothy romance that neither of them are known for.   It does take a while to get going, but once it does, enough points are scored to make it a worthwhile viewing for those who enjoy romantic French films.  Uneven, and ultimately insubstantial, but the leads pull it through in the end with class.

Qwipster's rating:

2004 Vince Leo