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Roman de Gare (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Running time 103 minutes

Despite a smashing performance by Dominique Pinon, the unique and interesting story (written and directed by Claude Lelouch, originally under a nom de plume, Hervé Picard) has plot holes that left me remembering scenes and lines that seemed to belie the ending.

Huguette (Audrey Dana) is left in the lurch at a gas station by her fiancé. There’s an escaped serial killer on the loose, but Huguette is unaware of it. The killer’s method of entrapment is to entertain his intended victims by performing magic tricks to lull them into a false sense of  security. Louis (Pinon) offers her a ride to help her out. He entertains her with magic tricks. Is Huguette safe? Is Louis the killer?

That’s the basis of this thriller that does keep the viewer on the edge of his seat.

Judith Ralitzer (Fanny Ardent) is a famous novelist. The title (literally, “crossed tracks”) of the film refers to easy reading novels that Frenchies buy in airports and train stations to pass the time during travel. Louis uses her name to tell Huguette that he is really Judith’s ghost writer. Is he? What’s going on his Louis’s mind?

Pinon gives a spectacular performance as the ambiguous Louis. Dana is almost his equal as the woman who is such a nag that it’s understandable when her fiancé drives off without her. Ardent portrays the writer with a deft touch. Lelouch (“A Man and a Woman”) is certainly a talented director and this shows flashes of his talent. If he had given a little more attention to ensuring that there weren’t huge credibility gaps in the script, this could have been a big winner. As it is, Pinon’s performance and the germ of the story are good enough to make this an entertaining evening.