Before We Vanish by Lawrence Garcia Film

Four Days in France | Jérôme Reybaud

August 4, 2017

It’s hard to imagine French director Alain Guiraudie going for mainstream appeal, but if he did, the result might look something like Jérôme Reybaud’s road trip movie Four Days in France. In what’s surely a coincidence, Reybaud’s film bears some superficial similarity to Guiraudie’s Staying Vertical: A restless protagonist, Pierre (Pascal Cervo), takes to the road with a manuscript and has various odd encounters of a sexual nature and otherwise; numerous POV shots from the car set the film’s peripatetic rhythm; Pierre even has a run-in that strips him of his belongings, just like the wayward writer in Staying Vertical.

But those similarities only underline how wan Reybaud’s vision is by comparison — how sharp, interesting detail can easily come across labored in a different context. That’s not to say Reybaud brings nothing to the table: his film works as a tour of France, not just in terms of its lush landscapes, but also of its people, particularly those that live in the French countryside. (Pierre’s Parisian identity is brought up multiple times.) The fact that Pierre leaves behind a lover (Paul, played by Arthur Igual), who then decides to take off after him, also means that there’s an underlying tension here, even as the interest inherent in any given scene varies wildly. And although the film is digressive and overlong (at 145 minutes), its conclusion—which brings together two strands long kept apart — is touching all the same.

Published as part of New Directors/New Films 2017 | Dispatch 2.