The Girl on the Barge (1929)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Maybe it's the fact that star Vanessa Paradis was once a model for Chanel, but the arty black-and-white film Girl on the Bridge has the look and feel of a TV commercial for Calvin Klein's Eternity. This is not to mock acclaimed French director Patrice Leconte, who also directed Monsieur Hire (1989) and The Hairdresser's Husband (1990), but rather to suggest that everything he films is awash in stylized beauty -- even the grizzled Daniel Autueil is suffused with erotic mystery under Leconte's lens. Autueil and Paradis, a French singing superstar known in the United States as Johnny Depp's love interest, forge a soulful bond that carries this flight of fancy, which moves from one exotic locale to the next in casting its dreamy spell. While the film is essentially lighthearted, and often quite funny, Paradis does some impressive work in a weightier opening scene in which she recounts her sad life history to an offscreen interviewer. Autueil, one of France's richest acting treasures, matches his usual high standards as the aging knife-thrower who saves Paradis' Adele from suicide. Because nearly every man who meets Adele is instantly smitten, Autueil's Gabor is refreshing in his unwillingness to claim ownership over his stage partner. It is her decision whether to reciprocate his platonic love or to continue on her prior ill-fated path. Theirs is an affair expressed through the one-on-one intimacy of their stage act, which is shot with such fetishistic intensity that it's sexier than most physical love scenes caught on film.