Written by: Carroll Jenkins on September 25th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: France, March 31st, 1999
Director: Patrice Leconte
Writer: Serge Frydman
Cast: Vanessa Paradis, Daniel Auteuil, Frédéric Pfluger, Demetre Georgalas, Catherine Lascault, Isabelle Petit-Jacques, Mireille Mossé, Didier Lemoine, Bertie Cortez, Stéphane Metzger, Claude Aufaure, Farouk Bermouga, Nicolas Donato, Enzo Etokyo, Giorgios Gatzios
DVD released: July 1st, 2008
Approximate running time: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Legend Films/Paramount Pictures
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.95
Synopsis: A young woman, driven to despair, is approached by a professional knife thrower who looks for distraught women to perform as his targets.
The themes presented here would be sheer and utter exploitation were they not handled with such class and finesse. After all, the female lead is a suicidal nymphomaniac; the male a predatory exhibitionist and compulsive gambler who leaves injured and dead bodies in his wake.
The first 10 minutes are a monologue by the girl that provides instant exposition into her character’s background, motives, emotions, and current situation. Thus we begin the film proper with a fully developed character intending to jump from the bridge. Enter the opportunistic carnie stage left.
The film telegraphs it’s symbolic intentions early on with touches of the fantastic. As an example, the girl wins roulette on the number zero about ten times in a row (without cheating). Couldn’t happen in this dimension, therefore the film must be interpreted as a whole greater than it’s parts. Yes, it’s a melodramatic character study, but that supports exposition on the meaning of life, love, destiny, and fate.
The most extraordinary aspect of the film, however, is the B&W cinematography. Gritty and romantic with every shot staged as a work of art in itself. The performances are uniformly excellent and the plot moves at a good pace. The film retains interest and a sense of purpose despite the episodic nature of the narrative.
The film is presented in anamorphic 2:35 with burned in English subtitles. The sound is fine in the original French mono. There is a Region 2 anamorphic release, but it suffers from PAL speedup. Though the transfer is interlaced and removable subs would be preferable, this Legend release is quite enjoyable.
Perhaps not revolutionary, but still imbued with avant-garde qualities, Girl On The Bridge is a spiritual merging of Wages Of Sin (gritty and tense social commentary) with Deadly Is The Female (obsessive couple on the lam). Highly recommended.