4 Days in France Screen 78 of 10 reviews

4 Days in France

2016

4 Days in France Poster
  • It's no more a "gay movie" than it is a "road movie." Few if any of the plot points we'd expect from either actually come to pass, so if you see a sad man gazing down from a cliff top don't go expecting him to hurl himself off it. The film is better grasped as a disjointed saunter, with deep existential underpinnings, through a France that's not for the export market... Reybaud embraces it all while shunning conventional narrative.

  • The actors’ elocutions are lovely and absurd, the sights idyllic, the film's mood unruffled. Reybaud's expertly ordered world is predicated on a genteel kindness, of strangers and Pierre alike, and starts to crack ever so slightly the further north he travels and the colder it gets.

  • This is a kind of ode to cruising writ large, to the intransitivity of cruising: looking for no object at all, but for its own sake. And there's something endearing, if not uncanny, about the way the film evokes universal truths about erotic wandering through the extremely specific figure of the French gay man, and Parisian white and preppy gayness in particular.

  • Whereas Wenders's characters often feel isolated, Reybaud's connect easily with others, using the Internet and their own charisma to forge bonds (both sexual and fraternal) with people unlike themselves. But as in the Wenders films, a desire for independence overwhelms any lasting sense of connection. At nearly two and a half hours, the film feels a little overlong, but the acute sense of transience makes a strong impression.

  • What Reybaud’s shooting for is closer in spirit to the lower-key likes of Martín Rejtman’s films — in which intersections between strangers redirect the film from one character to another, following tangents that build to no rising arc — or Kleber Mendonça Filho’s capacious Neighboring Sound sand Aquarius... The cumulative effect is a movie that seems initially extremely low-key but enfolds a great deal of anecdotal incident into a sneakily ambitious package.

  • What makes 4 Days In France special, though, is that it’s far more expansive than its basic premise would suggest. Pierre and Paul remain separated, with zero direct contact, for most of the film’s nearly two-and-a-half hours; while their relationship is the narrative’s beating heart, writer-director Jérôme Reybaud is more interested in exploring veins and arteries.

  • A pleasingly discursive road movie for our geosocial age... Traversing wooded enclaves in the center of the nation to hamlets deep in the French Alps to towns overlooking the Mediterranean, Reybaud’s film serves as a tonic lesson in physical specifics, each location populated with richly idiosyncratic conversation partners.

  • Like Vecchialli's underseen work, one can see in Reybaud's film a casual blend of the sublime and the mundane, the way that eroticism can sift unexpected magnificence from the overall drabness of being. And, like Guiraudie, Reybaud is equal parts hustler and romantic... Add to this Reybaud’s exquisitely detailed attention to the French landscape, from the commercialized suburban inland right up to the Alps and the Italian border, and it is obvious that we have a major new talent on our hands.

  • Some of this story is mildly whimsical, and there are ramps into some kind of magical realism (a blizzard at the French-Italian border is a little far-fetched). There are a lot of shots from behind a car windshield. These are more allied with “The Brown Bunny” than with the more lyrical “Two-Lane Blacktop.” While Mr. Reybaud has exemplary artistic confidence and an interesting vision, this is a movie that in many ways defines or justifies the “not for everybody” critical hedge.

  • In an Angelopoulos film, the camera always leads us somewhere for a clear reason. If Reybaud wants to signal Pierre’s own aimlessness with a seemingly aimless shot, he has confused style with content. Just because Pierre doesn’t know what he is doing doesn’t mean that the camera should behave as he does (unless that camera is more clearly from his point of view).

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