Sixties art-house standby Claude Lelouch is, as it turns out, alive and well and living in Paris. He’s even directed a new film; the title, Roman de gare, incessantly punned with in the film, apparently refers to those cheap paperback thrillers available at train stations, tawdry stuff good for a vacation perusal. A glance at my unusually thick press kit shows an interviewed Lelouch defensive about his alleged status as a “popular” or “mass” director (everything is relative)—hence his adoption of X material.
Patricia Highsmith nods aside, Roman de gare is a uniformly cruddy-looking, asinine collection of best-seller tropes. Lelouch’s approach is to let loose multiple ambiguous forebodings in the hopes that they will simultaneously overlay the film with suspense. The film opens with a bestselling mystery novelist (Fanny Ardant) being grilled by detectives in association with the death of her ghostwriter. Backtrack to a Dark and Stormy Night; the radio announces a pederast serial killer is on the loose, luring kiddies with magic tricks. Cut to: Pierre (Dominique Pinon) haunting a highway gas station, where he’s trying to pick up Huguette (Audrey Dana), a devastated young woman who’s just been ditched by her fiance while on the way home to meet her parents.
Click here to read Nick Pinkerton’s take on Lelouch’s Roman de gare.
And in the meantime, check out this hilariously glib trailer for Roman de gare: (“In the still of the night….”)