This charming French neo-noir doesn’t deserve to be lost in the shuffle of December’s glut of ponderous Oscar bait and megalithic blockbusters.
Based on an airport-light novel about an amnesiac secretary’s impromptu murder-and-intrigue-filled vacation, The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun is like a movie-shaped sudoku puzzle: an irresistible time-suck that’s more fun to puzzle over than it is to solve. Timid office worker Dany (Skins star Freya Mavor) isn’t a psychologically complex heroine. She suffers from short-term memory loss after she impulsively takes her boss’s Thunderbird out for a spin.
As she passes through various southern-French villages, Dany gets hurt, has sex, and discovers a dead body. None of these seemingly random encounters poses an urgent threat. Instead, each run-in adds to a vague, miasmic feeling of dread that builds until Dany learns what’s really happening to her. Director Joann Sfar (Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, The Rabbi’s Cat) wisely emphasizes sunny ambience over intricate plot and realistic character development. Viewers are treated to a wealth of earthy pleasures, especially suggestive dialogue and adoring close-ups of Mavor while she poses in form-fitting summer outfits.
Dany’s mystery may ultimately go one twist too far. But until then, viewers can easily lose themselves while daydreaming about a French dame in distress with bad luck and an alluring look.
The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun
Directed by Joann Sfar
Opens December 18