2002, R, 91 min. Directed by Danièle Thompson. Starring Juliette Binoche, Jean Reno, Sergi López.
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Aug. 15, 2003
In the film's prologue, an unseen woman speaks of Warhol's famous declaration that everyone gets 15 minutes of fame; she muses that she always thought she deserved "a whole day – a whole day when my life was like an American movie." I'm not sure the one idea really follows the other, but it adequately establishes the film's overriding sensibility: Though Jet Lag's central characters are speaking French, the manner in which they come together and stay together is entirely American – or rather, Hollywoodian. How else to explain how these two strangers – an overly done-up and generally fussed-about beautician named Rose (Binoche) and a haggard, Paxil-popping celebrity chef named Félix (Reno) – repeatedly bump into each other among 1 million other travelers at the chaotic Charles De Gaulle Airport? (A Hollywood movie needn't explain, see: It's a movie, stupid.) Both are en route to elsewhere – he is headed to a funeral in Munich, where he hopes to woo back his ex-girlfriend, while she is fleeing to Mexico and away from an abusive ex-boyfriend. They meet when Rose borrows his cell phone, and neither can quite shake the other. Bad weather conditions, the first-day crush of school vacations, and a strike by air-traffic controllers continually delay both their flights, and the two begin a wary association that, over the course of day into night, evolves from reticent to biting and finally empathetic. The best parts of Jet Lag are during their caustic phase, when, wounded, each goes on the attack, outing the peculiar, failed defense mechanisms the other employs (her make-up, which fills up a whole tackle box-sized carrier, and his pills). The psychic ramifications of Rose physically scrubbing clean her face aren't subtle, but the upside is we get a number of lingering close-ups of luscious Juliette Binoche. We also get a fun, bit-of-a-ditz performance from the Oscar-winning actress (a far cry from her usual mopey roles) and the pleasure of seeing her spar with the similarly renowned Jean Reno (The Professional). Jet Lag's romantic fluffery is somewhat beneath these old pros, but they make its meet-cute scenario work, mostly – and most especially when crusty, grumpy, grizzled Jean Reno announces he's "totally in love." However briefly, I "totally" am too.