Those of us whose ignorance of the French language makes us ill-equipped to fill in the blanks feel gypped.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

For those of us who have voluntarily, and often happily, tethered ourselves to the attachments of stability, there is a fascination in watching people who don't seem the slightest bit interested in such things. In Girl On the Bridge, Adele (Vanessa Paradis) and Gabor (Daniel Auteuil) seem absolutely unconnected to people or places. It seems perfectly logical that they meet while standing on the railing of a bridge over the Seine. Adele is about to jump.

At the age of 22 she sees herself as a loser who sleeps with any man who appeals to her for even a moment, in the classic mistaken belief that someone else can make life work for her. "I keep waiting for something to happen to me." She is weary of emptiness, but continues to look to empty men. Gabor steps forward with the gentle suggestion that Adele should become his assistant. In a perfect French slant, he is a knife thrower; she will be his target. The target, he explains, is far more important than the thrower because she must make the carnival audience fall in love with her. He's right, of course. If you don't love the target, how much can you care where the knife lands? And that's the secret of the appeal of knife throwing for a carnival audience: will the blade hit the wood or the flesh?

She jumps, he rescues, and they wake up in a hospital in two of a long row of warmer bags waiting for hypothermia victims who jump off bridges in cold weather. After Gabor transforms Adele into his beautiful target, the pair wows the carnival circuit with their act. As telepathy develops between them, they become the missing piece of luck for each other. They ride their wave to success on stage and in the casino. Wearing a slight smile as the knife comes close, Adele lets us know she has found the erotic danger that she craves.

The part of Adele is a tough one to play. This is a mercurial character who never thinks of consequences and seems incapable of serious attachments: "Boys appeal to me like beautiful clothes." And so she makes love with the carnival contortionist on a piano; with a soldier in the rest room of a train; with a vacuous Greek. With the face of an angel, Vanessa Paradis projects Adele's uncanny, childlike detachment from emotion. She is the perfect partner for Mr. Auteuil , who makes our spirits rise and fall with his slightest expression. They are dazzling together.

One problem: For about half the time, the white subtitles are shown against the lightest part of this black and white movie. Those of us whose ignorance of the French language makes us ill-equipped to fill in the blanks feel gypped. But that's an acceptable trade-off for an absorbing movie about two people who don't know they need a little something solid beneath them and settle instead for love.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 492
Studio : Paramount Classics
Rating : R
Running time : 1h32m

Copyright (c) Illusion

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