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A STRANGE PLACE TO MEET

France, 1988 (MIFF 1989)

Director: François Depeyron

After a string of award-winning shorts and documentaries, Francois Dupeyron has pulled off quite a coup by convincing the two biggest stars of the French cinema, Deneuve and Depardieu, to team up once again, in the most challenging project they've taken on for years. So great was their enthusiasm for the script, that both actors helped produce Dupeyron's first feature via their respective companies. Their faith has not gone unfounded.

The characters meet one cold night on a highway rest-stop. France (Deneuve) who has been travelling with her husband, is unceremoniously rejected by him after a heated argument. Distraught and confused, she meets Charles (Depardieu) whose car has broken down,

A doctor, he has decided that the only way to understand the car's problems is by pulling it apart and fixing it himself; yet with tie parts strewn out on the footpath, Charles seems in no hurry to repair it. One senses that the car's engine is not the only thing he's trying to understand.

As the bourgeois wife who refuses to accept the obvious reality that her husband is not returning to collect her, Deneuve has her strongest role in years in this portrayal of a woman on the verge.

Sparks fly, and not the expected ones, as the action eventually moves from the roadside rest-stop to a truck-stop/cafeteria not far up the highway. Dupeyron's script, co-written with his wife Dominique Faysse, maintains a nervous edge which eschews pat solutions and keeps the audience guessing to its open-ended conclusion.

A talent to watch.

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