A pleasingly discursive road movie for our geosocial age, writer-director Jérôme Reybaud’s debut narrative feature navigates la France profonde with the help of Grindr. “France is huge. Full of men, full of possibilities,” says Pierre (Pascal Cervo), a Sorbonne appointee, to one of the temporary passengers in his white Alfa Romeo during an aimless excursion through the country. Pierre has abandoned his sleeping boyfriend, Paul (Arthur Igual), and their haut-homo-bourgeois life in Paris for reasons unknown; on his journey south, he meets people, whether by happenstance or via app, of different genders and ages — for sex, for conversation, for something else. With its occasional intergenerational man-on-man carnal pairings and provincial settings, 4 Days in France suggests an affinity with the films of Alain Guiraudie, especially his most recent, Staying Vertical, which features, as Reybaud’s movie does, an abundance of through-the-windshield shots. But Reybaud favors more voluble characters, most of whom belong to a widely defined creative class: a retirement-home chanteuse, a Rimbaud scholar now running a tiny bookshop, a tavern owner homeschooling his teenage godson on granular French geography. “Parthenay, La Mure, Écuisses, Issoire,” that dutiful pupil recites, each place name enunciated with incantatory power. Traversing wooded enclaves in the center of the nation to hamlets deep in the French Alps to towns overlooking the Mediterranean, Reybaud’s film similarly serves as a tonic lesson in physical specifics, each location populated with richly idiosyncratic conversation partners.
4 Days in France
Written and directed by Jérôme Reybaud
Opens August 4, Quad Cinema
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 1, 2017