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Roman de Gare (R) **½

Shaya Lelouch as Sabrina,  Audrey Dana as Huguette,  and Dominique Pinon as Pierre Laclos in Claude Lelouch's ROMAN DE GARE
Shaya Lelouch as Sabrina, Audrey Dana as Huguette, and Dominique Pinon as Pierre Laclos in Claude Lelouch's ROMAN DE GARE

By Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald

In Roman de Gare, French filmmaker Claude Lelouche throws down the gauntlet to viewers who can spot any plot twist, no matter how illogical or impractical. Never seen a murder mystery you couldn’t outwit? Here is your movie.

The set-up is simple. There is a famous writer (the great Fanny Ardant), being questioned by the police for the possible murder of her assistant. There is a young woman (Audrey Dana) stranded at a roadside cafe by her boyfriend (Cyrille Eldin) after a fight on their way to meet her parents.

And there is a man (Dominique Pinon) who may be a serial killer and pedophile nicknamed ”The Magician.” Or he may be the ghost writer of the novelist. Or maybe he’s both. Or neither.

Pretty much everything you think is happening in Roman de Gare (which loosely translates into ”Airport Novel,” a hint of the kind of throwaway entertainment being aspired to) isn’t — or at least isn’t exactly as it appears. Lelouche, best known in the United States for 1966’s Oscar-winning A Man and a Woman, treats this material with a touch more gravity and seriousness than it probably deserved, promising a resolution more substantial and less contrived than the one you actually get.

But even if the game isn’t entirely successful, it’s fun to play along. The cast is excellent (Pinon, a familiar face from Amelie and Delicatessen, is especially good at keeping his character’s ambiguity spinning), the locations are travel-brochure beautiful and the aforementioned twists pile on without ever quite exhausting you.

Cast: Dominique Pinon, Fanny Ardant, Audrey Dana, Cyrille Eldin

Writer-director-producer: Claude Lelouche

A Samuel Goldwyn Films release. Running time: 103 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Vulgar language, sexual situations, adult themes. In Miami-Dade: Regal South Beach; in Palm Beach: Shadowood, PGA.

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