Girl on the Bridge

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff
Director:Patrice Leconte
Writer:Serge Frydman
Paramount Classics; R; 92 minutes
Cast:Daniel Auteuil, Vanessa Paradis, Bertie Cortez

European fans will instantly recognize the face of pop star Vanessa Paradis as she contemplates leaping into an icy Seine during the opening scene of Girl on the Bridge. She's simultaneously alluring and vulnerable, which is why Gabor (Daniel Auteuil) interrupts her reverie. He's a professional knife-thrower with steady hands and sharp, searching eyes. And like Adele, he's dogged by a lifelong streak of bad luck. The perfect target for a knife thrower is someone the audience can't help but fall in love with. She agrees to test her luck, and together they angle a line between fate and passion, stopping off in Athens, Monaco, and Istanbul along the way.

French director Patrice Leconte returns to the themes and characterization that made his The Hairdresser's Husband such a masterpiece: star-crossed lovers, life's sweet detail, and a sturdy erotic pivot around which the story turns. The pair's first performance, for example, is a flawless rendering of bodily tension. Filmed in lush black-and-white, Gabor hurls knives at Adele as she stands behind a cloth curtain, sighing with each impact. Closer and closer the blades fall until her thin outline is revealed by Gabor's knives pinning it into prominence. Leconte works these moments of compressed metaphor outward into romantic melodrama (exactly what he avoided in the more resonant Hairdresser's Husband). But this is no Hollywood syrup. Girl on the Bridge is witty French melodrama, and it's in the hands of accomplished actors and exotic locales.

Between Auteuil and Paradis a natural, inevitable attraction unfolds. They are the most believable couple in recent film, pitched with the perfect amount of nuance. Like a French pastry this movie is light yet exquisitely crafted, sweet and filling.

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