The March 28, 2017 DVD release of the 2013 French drama "Just a Sigh" shows once again that distributor of "provocative" documentaries Icarus Films does just as well regarding occasionally including fictional films in the Icarus catalog.
This compelling film by Jerome Bonnell is the compelling story of actress Alix (whom uber-talented Emmanuelle Devos portrays very well) taking an enormously hectic day trip to Paris. The numerous film festival for Devos and Bonnell (as well as designation as a New York Times Critics' Pick) reflect the Icarus seal of approval.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Sigh" highlights the performances, the story, and the cinematography that merit the praise from critics great and small.
We meet aforementioned thespian Alix backstage during a Calais production of the Henrik Ibsen play in which she is performing. The bizarre activity and all-around frantic environment initially makes the viewer feel as if he or she is watching a variation of the 2014 film "Birdman." Alix is navigating this craziness while arranging to attend an audition in Paris the next morning.
A frantic Alix boards the Paris-bound train roughly 12 hours later, where she meets charming U.K. professor Doug, whom charming Gabriel Byrne seems born to play. Devos and Byrne clearly communicate their immediate mutual spark.
The bad morning of Alix not improving on returning to her home turf prompts seeking out Doug. Her subsequently clarifying that she is not so pathetic as to have followed him from the train is one of the best moments of the film. This also increases the later verified vibe that Alix is both portraying and living the form of heavy drama for which Ibsen is known.
The second time that Alix tracks down Doug is a bit more needy and also somewhat true to life. A parallel experience of your not-so-humble reviewer is not thinking much of a chance encounter with tourists in his city just before being scheduled to meet someone at an reception at a hotel. Discretion requires limiting the rest of this story to stating that one of the visitors successfully searching the hotel function rooms leads to events that parallel the best parts of the day of Alix.
A lack of immediate funds plays a significant role in the events of the day of the actress. Two of the more traumatic encounters are with a restaurant worker who takes a harsh stance regarding paying the check, and these desperate times requiring that Alix take the desperate measure of asking her estranged sister for a loan. The one minor spoiler here is that an afternoon visit is insufficient to erase decades of sibling-related resentment.
The final element of this film that easily could be titled "Alix and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" is the titular actress having an infuriatingly difficult time reaching the man in her life. Alix telling Doug the extent of the need for speaking with this man both further complicates the relationship between our leads and enhances the already strong sympathy that the audience feels for our leading lady.
The end of the film symbolically is at the end of the day. There is enough closure for Alix to satisfy the audience and enough ambiguity to make this film much more than a mainstream drama that unnaturally puts everything right that once went wrong.
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