The Girl on the Bridge

An incredibly odd little romance on fairly conventional lines: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl, but all of it done up with a bizarre sense of tone that makes it well worth the ride. The Girl on the Bridge is like a hybrid of Chaplin and David Lynch but not profound enough to measure up to the former and not dark and odd enough for the latter. Still, Patrice Laconte achieves something so unusual–a kind of magical realism in black-and-white–that you can’t help but keep watching: The movie is about a suicidally depressed young waif (Vanessa Paradis) who’s really a pushover for a pickup line and for age-old notions about romantic love. She takes up with a knife-thrower (the always-splendid Daniel Auteuil) and together they set off from one circus gig to another. Their relationship is charged, sexually, though they don’t even so much as kiss during the entire film. The metaphor of the knife-throwing as sex act, one that combines impulses of fear and trust into an erotic experience, is remarkable, especially due to Paradis’ most convincing show of swooning against the boards. Leconte’s humor is whacky, sometimes surreal, and his assured direction yields delightfully seriocomic performances. I do wish the script had taken more chances, especially with regard to Auteuil’s character (to make him, say, even more emotionally distant), but Girl is still an oddly amusing and touching work.

Grade: B

Directed by: Patrice Leconte
Screenplay by: Serge Frydman
Cast: Vanessa Paradis, Daniel Auteuil, Frédéric Pfluger, Demetre Georgalas

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