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    A Tout de Suite

    Girl trouble

    A young woman is fatefully entangled with a man running from the law in "A Tout de Suite."


    "A Tout de Suite," follows in the rich tradition of such "girl-on-the-lam-with-a-bad-guy" films as "Breathless" and "Badlands." They're usually bored girls seeking escape from their bourgeois middle-class white-bread lives. Loosely based on a true story, to tell his version, director Benoit Jacquot returns to the Paris of his own youth — the '70s — a simpler wonderland of promise and promiscuity.

    Written and directed by: Beno”t Jacquot.
    Adapted from a story by: Elisabeth Fanger.
    Cast: Isild Le Besco, Ouassini Embarek, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Laurence Cordier, Forini Kodoukaki, Lˇonor Graser, Emmanuelle Bercot, Odile Vuillemin, Catherine Davenier, Nicolas Pignon, David Ayala, Olivier Augrond, Sabri Lahmer, Fatiha Cheriguene, Olivier Foubert, Rabah Loucif.
    Cinematography: Caroline Champetier.
    Edited by: Luc Barnier.
    In French with English subtitles.

    Related links: Official site
    Rendezvous with French Cinema 2005
    • A Tout de Suite
    • Holy Lola
    • The Intruder
    In grainy handheld Nouvelle Vague fashion, we meet Lili, Jacquot's 19-year-old heroine, played by the incredible if inscrutable, Isild Le Besco (who also appeared in Jacquot's "Sade"). "A Tout de Suite" is very much Lili's story. Her choices motivate all the action, even when she seems merely to be a passive participant. In the opening scenes, she's a bored, spoiled, well-to-do art student, doodling and daydreaming. She slips in and out of her nice Parisian apartment to go to school (or not), always waiting for something — her life, perhaps — to happen.

    No mere clichˇ, there's a 21st-century woman echoing in this 20th-century girl. Her desire to escape from the smothering tedium of her comfortable life is palpable, and what's the future for an art student anyway? A career in advertising or becoming a museum curator? Not for Lili!

    Over a mid-day coffee she meets Bada and has a romantic coup de foudre, instantly knowing he's "the one." Well, of course he is, especially in the person of Ouassini Embarek, who's requisitely tall, dark and exotic. Bada's from Morocco and she knows nothing about him, except that he seems to be well off. They meet later at a club and in quaint old, pre-AIDS 1970s fashion, she brings him home and screws his brains out. Ah young love!

    Of course, he's not at all what he seems. In fact, he's a criminal, which she may have realized on some subliminal "I need a bad boy" level. In very quick succession, he robs a bank, someone gets killed and she becomes involved in his life on the lam. She makes an instantaneous decision to join him in whatever is to come, and that moment will affect the rest of her life. But she feels alive.

    Their misadventures take them from Paris to Spain, Morocco and finally to Greece, as tensions mount and the stolen money becomes harder to pass. The excitement of fugitive life slowly disintegrates when times get tough and then tougher. Finally, Bada abandons her in Greece and she is forced to fend for herself. As she manifests an inner strength she didn't know she had, she still clings to the idea that he will return or send for her.

    But Lili is no pale imitation of Jean Seberg's Patricia in "Breathless" or Sissy Spacek's Holly in "Badlands." Neither a bitch nor a brainless twit, she's searching for a meaning to her life. The remarkable LeBesco (herself a filmmaker at the age of 20 with "Demi-Tarif") is the perfect nouvelle Nouvelle Vague heroine. She's nobody's stoolie and nobody's patsy. Lili is gutsy and strong and totally committed to her own folie.

    MARCH 15, 2005

    Reader comments on A Tout de Suite:

  • Boring Boring Boring   from Sam Elwiss, Jun 13, 2005
  • Re: Boring Boring Boring   from barry alpert, Sep 23, 2007

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