BON VOYAGE directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, written by Patrick Modiano, produced by Laurent Petin and Michèle Petin, with Isabelle Adjani, Gérard Depardieu, Yvan Attal and Virginie Ledoyen. 114 minutes. A France Cinema 2 production, a Sony Classics/Mongrel Media release. Opens Friday (April 16). For review, venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 87. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Stars are often disappointing. In person they're shorter, duller and way less charismatic than they are on film. Virginie Ledoyen, however, does not disappoint. She has remarkable, almost translucent skin. In a dark hotel room at the Intercontinental, she glows.
There was a moment a couple of years ago, when The Beach opened, when you couldn't walk into a magazine shop without seeing Ledoyen on a cover. It came, it went, and she never became an American star. She never tried.
Ledoyen is at the Toronto International Film Festival promoting Bon Voyage, a large and slow-moving second world war thriller in which she plays a student trying to help a top nuclear scientist get out of France before the Nazis grab him.
She spends much of the picture with tied-up hair and glasses, lest she distract from the picture's principal female star, Isabelle Adjani, herself no slouch in the beauty department.
In France, Ledoyen is an award-winning star and celebrity model for Revlon. She has her choice of roles, and credits dating back into her teens with directors including Claude Chabrol and Olivier Assayas.
What happened to her American career?
"After The Beach, I had lots of offers for American films, but they weren't interesting. They were action movies, and though I like American movies, and I even like action movies, as an actor I want to find roles and directors that let me do more than be 'the girl.' Then François Ozon offered me 8 Femmes, so I stayed home. There was more money in the American films, but not much challenge."
At home, she's not just "the girl."
She describes her Bon Voyage character as a tomboy and a nerd who is charming but not too arrogant.
"When I got ready to read Bon Voyage, I wanted to like it because Jean-Paul Rappeneau was one of the directors I'd wanted to work with for a long time. I was flattered to receive the script.
"It's about an important historical period, dealing with issues of collaboration in World War II. It is a thriller, a costume picture, and it is also a comedy, but it isn't cynical about the period."