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It's the journey - and the destination

"Bon Voyage" is a wonderful French film, a comedy-drama — that is engaging, filled with energy, multiple subplots, and never seems — to let up.

Here is the setup: On the eve of Germany's invasion of — France, Paris is electric with rumors and uncertainty. A famous and beautiful — actress, Viviane (Isabelle Adjani), calls an old beau, Frederic (Gregori — Derangere).

Tearfully she explains that there is, apparently, a dead — man in her living room. How he came to be there and how he got dead is, — well, a bit vague. Frederic, blinded by love, agrees to help her dispose — of the body. And so begins a series of events that will bring an ensemble — of characters together, all with their own exigent agendas, all ricocheting — off of each other in a delightfully frenetic way.

And now act two: Hearing that the French resistance has — failed and that German occupation inevitable, thousands of Parisians flee — to the south of France, to Bordeaux -- to include the French government, — specifically the French Prime Minister Beaufort (Gerard Depardieu).

A young girl, Camille, and an aging scientist, are also — headed south, hoping to find a ship that will take them to England. They — happen to be in possession of a trunk load of heavy water (needed to make — atomic weapons) which must not fall into the German's hands.

The Germans have been tracking the water and the scientist — for days and are most eager to get their hands on both. Should they be — successful the consequences would be catastrophic.

Frederic escapes from prison, where he was awaiting trial — for murder because he was caught with the body in the trunk of his car; — the Germans are in the hunt for the water; a gang of enterprising thieves — is busily emptying out Bordeaux warehouses of good wine and brandy; Frederic, — still in love, despite being framed, pursues Viviane; and much of this — takes place in and around the Bordeaux Hotel Splendide, where countless — socially prominent Parisians have gathered, insisting they must have, — immediately, the best rooms and the best service. Of course, there is — always Nice.

Act three is the climactic escape from Bordeaux by Camille, — Viviane, Frederic and, of course, the heavy water. In the end, it all — leads to a most satisfying denouement.

And so this very funny and serious movie goes, moving — along at a brisk pace, with much intercutting of scenes and characters, — never seeming, even slightly, out of control. It is well plotted and though — intricate never convoluted.

Of course, the camera is in love with Isabelle Adjani — and often lingers on her pouting face; however, she doesn't dominate the — film. Actually, "Bon Voyage" balances all of the performances neatly, — is beautifully photographed, with lovely, panoramic shots of France, and — is striking for its nifty costuming. As well, it captures perfectly the — ambiance of France in 1940, the anxiety and chaos that preceded the inevitable — arrival of the Germans.

"Bon Voyage" is much recommended: It is funny and serious, — a bit farcical to be sure, yet never heavy-handed. A film not to miss.