A Tout de Suite

(Right Now)

Benoit Jacquot's A Tout de Suite, where a young girl goes on the run with her criminal boyfriend, is based on true events. Jacquot (Adolphe, Tosca) lovingly filmed everything in black and white, though not as crisp as people are used to seeing. So while the gorgeous contrasts of light and dark remain, things look and feel a bit fuzzy around the edges, mirroring the uncertain nature of the characters and the story. Everything feels very French New Wave-ish, and aficionados of the movement will enjoy this film immensely, but it also contains some of the obtuseness that critics of the genre dislike.

A Tout de Suite never tries to explain why Lili (Isild Le Besco, The Cost of Living, Adolphe) does what she does. It does work as a hazy sort of dream. Everybody, including Lili, is never too sure of what is happening. Jacquot introduces Lili as somebody who is a bit of a rogue. Her family is well off, and she sneaks in a friend to stay over every night. She meets Bada (Ouassini Embarek, Cash Truck, The Good Thief) and falls for him quickly. He's boyishly handsome, and enjoys spending money on her. He also gives evasive answers to what he does.

One night, Bada calls saying that he robbed a bank. His partner Alain's (Nicolas Duvauchelle, Eager Bodies, Beau Travail) killed somebody, and now there is a hostage standoff with police. The two escape, and together with Alain's girlfriend Joelle (Laurence Cordier, La Fiancee) escape to Morocco where they begin a new life as fugitives. Lili doesn't do much for most of the movie. She's driven by her love (which is more like infatuation) with Bada. She's wrapped around her finger. Late in the film, the trio abandons her, leaving her stranded in Greece. She has no money, doesn't speak the language, and has no system of support.

Lili is forced to fend for herself for probably the first time in her life. For the duration of the movie, Jacquot presents her as a shell, with little to no personality. Besco's face is blank most of the time, and she rarely volunteers anything. She is content to go with the flow, until the last part of the film, when she wakes up and begins taking action and making decisions. Jacquot is content to let things unfold slowly, almost lazily, so it's hard to be drawn into the film. Especially because the pacing contrasts with the very nature of the film, four people on the run from the law. In the end, A Tout de Suite feels more like an exercise in black and white style than a substantive narrative.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 35 minutes, French with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains nudity, sexual situations, and language, and easy R.

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