The Bridge

(Un Pont Entre Deux Rives)


The funny thing about Gerard Depardieu is that the French adore him and revere him as a national icon. Yet, here in America, he is fodder for comedians. Why is that? Well, his most recent role in 102 Dalmations is the reason why. In the role, Depardieu (The Envy of Gods) plays a buffoon with bad hair and a worse fashion sense. American audiences rarely have the opportunity to see him act well. In The Bridge (the complete French translation is The Bridge Between Two Rivers), he shows why the French love him so much, and if Americans take the time to find this film, they will certainly agree.

Co-directed by Depardieu and writer Frederic Auburtin (who based the movie on a best-selling French novel), The Bridge chronicles an affair by Mina (Carole Bouquet, Lucie Aubrac, In All Innocence) and Matthias (Charles Berling, Stardom, Comedy of Innocence). The affair starts when Mina's husband Georges (Depardieu) takes a job working on a bridge that requires him to be away from home a week at a time. To make ends meet, Mina begins working as a housekeeper. At a screening of West Side Story, the man next to her begins to cry. She is intrigued that a man would show such emotion (especially since Georges does not) and has a drink with him, thinking she will never see him again. She does, and the attraction between Mina and Matthias grows. Matthias also works on the bridge, which complicates matters for Mina.

Auburtin and Depardieu focus more on the emotions than the affair itself. Mina loves Georges, but also loves Matthias. Her love for Georges now seems almost platonic. Georges loves Mina so much that when he discovers the affair, he is more sad than angry, resigned to the fact that he has a real possibility of losing her. Depardieu doesn't really do much, but all his acting comes through his eyes, and the forlorn look in them. Matthias is the hollowest character, showing only devotion to Mina. At the same time, Mina's son, Tommy (Stanislas Crevillen, Sortez des rangs) knows about the affair. He does not tell his father, but his mother knows he strongly disapproves. The Bridge is very much a character-driven drama, with Mina caught between Georges and Matthias. The acting is subtle and favors the use of introspection and conversation over other methods of story development. It certainly redeems Depardieu's horrible performance in 102 Dalmations.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 28 minutes, French with English subtitles, Not Rated, but mature themes, would probably be a PG-13.

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