Four Days in France really is about four days outside of Paris. Since Pierre (Pascal Cervo) has floored it out of the city into a freeway odyssey, with no change of clothes and no clear destination, he is relying on other gay men for somewhere to sleep and just pass the time. He finds young, stranded ones on dating apps, older, paranoid ones scrawled on cubicle walls, and repressed ones in neighbouring motel rooms. All the favourites.
That explains why he doesn’t want to hear from his boyfriend Paul (Arthur Igual), who, in a side-plot, cleverly re-purposes Grindr to locate his wandering lover. Paul seems genuinely concerned with his well-being, giving Pierre’s nonchalance that extra spice.
In a moment of weakness, Pierre seeks guidance from a seasoned actress and Aunt extraordinaire, Judith (Liliane Montevecchi). Staring intensely into her dressing room mirror, she says she knows why he is calling, and knows the deliciousness of freedom, and its cost. All of the speeches from everyone Pierre meets are beautifully written variations on this theme, and performed with that slight sense of being rehearsed, like the rationalisations of a lonely heart.
Writer and director Jérôme Reybaud uses tracking shots to immerse us in a French countryside that is both beautiful and menial. Think Middle Earth, except those snow-capped mountains are seen from inside a hatchback Alfa Romeo. It’s gloriously scored with classical music, until a track suddenly skips at a cut, or the stereo is turned off in a huff. And in accompaniment, the steady clicking of the turning signal.
All this leads to some point somewhere, about the state of sexuality in France perhaps, or that little piece of us that remains stifled by the comforts of civilisation. Or maybe it’s about fame and anonymity. Anyway, there’s no place like home.
Four Days in France is a beautiful and clever film. It’s just a pity that, at the end of its long road trip, and a lot of burnt up fuel, is a fairly uninspiring destination.
Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Four Days in France screens nationally as part of the Alliance Française French Film Festival, which kicked off on February 27th. For more information and tickets please visit: https://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/