Jet Lag

(Decalage Horaire)

Whether they were trying to or not, the filmmakers behind Jet Lag made a romantic comedy that is very un-romantic comedy like. For one, the two main characters are over the age of thirty. It may help that Juliette Binoche (Children of the Century, Code Unknown) and Jean Reno (Rollerball, Just Visiting) are two of the most popular actors in France. And, another fabulously popular actor, Sergi Lopez (With a Friend Like Harry, An Affair of Love) makes an appearance. This makes three characters, which leaves no room for the stupid one-note sidekicks that usually slum around these types of movies. Jet Lag is romantic comedy stripped to the core. Two characters, and essentially two settings, the airport and a hotel room.

A perfect storm-like confluence of events traps thousands of people at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, and brings Rose (Binoche) and Felix (Reno) together. What prevents them from leaving is a freak snowstorm, an air traffic controller strike, and a railway strike. Felix cannot get on a plane or train to Germany, and Rose cannot make her flight. Like all romantic comedies, the two immediately despise each other. Rose borrows Felix's cell phone and proceeds to follow him around, talking incessantly. Felix just wants to be left alone. The two are opposites. Rose is flighty, a flashy dresser, and obviously fond of make-up. Felix is grumpy, terse, and a businessman.

It turns out Rose is trying to escape a bad relationship with Sergio (Lopez), and Felix feels responsible for her after a series of mishaps. His airline gives him a room at the hotel, and, feeling sorry for Rose, he invites her to stay with him (in the other bed, or course). Once in the room, things go from bad to worse, in more ways than one. Since there are only two characters, the focus is completely on them, and shines a bright spotlight on some of the shortcomings of the story. They need to be sympathetic in order for people to want them to fall in love. Mother/son writing team of Daniele (La Buche), who also directed, and Christopher (La Buche) Thompson create a grouch and a flighty ditz who end up annoying the audience before warming up to each other.

In fact, there is not much humor until well into the film, once the two begin falling for each other. The characters do become more watchable, and this is partly because the actors are Reno and Binoche. Reno works surprisingly well as the romantic lead, in a grizzled, manly sort of way. The same goes for Binoche, who is playing a character with a lot less depth than the people she usually portrays. The two eventually click, but it's never really satisfying. The bare-bones structure of Jet Lag shows that aside from the fact that there isn't much humor in the film, there isn't much of anything else. It barely slides by on the power of its two stars, but otherwise begins to drag well before the end.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 21 minutes, Rated R for language and brief sexuality.

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