Rose, the protagonist played by Juliette Binoche in “Jet Lag,” begins the film by saying she wishes her life were like an American movie. She’s thinking of “Roman Holiday” specifically, but she means fluffy, happy-ending American romances in general.
Who wouldn’t want a life like that, I guess. The irony is that while predictable, pat endings make for a comfortable, happy life, they often make for dull movies. Rose is lucky, though. Her life turns out happy, and it makes for a fun movie, too, even if it is completely by-the-numbers.
You’ve seen this movie before; you just haven’t seen it in French. Rose is a beautician who’s leaving Paris to get away from her loutish boyfriend, hopefully for the last time. She runs into Felix (Jean Reno), a harried businessman, at the airport and asks to use his cell phone. Soon the cell phone humor is rampant, as whoever Rose called uses the caller ID to call her back, which means Rose and Felix keep having to interact.
It leads to the film’s major set piece, a lengthy scene at a hotel where Rose and Felix must stay for the night when their flight is canceled. Part “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” part every-romantic-comedy-ever-made, the film gives us ample time with the characters, in a variety of semi-wacky situations that never stray too far from reality.
Binoche and Reno do a lot for the film, giving some weight to what could have been two very stock characters. They’re an unlikely couple as far as romance goes — she with her flamboyance masking insecurity, he a downbeat bundle of nerves and heart medication — but by the end, they make sense together.
That said, the film’s story is so slight that it can barely sustain itself. It’s short, but not short enough. Still, in the realm of predictable rom-coms, this one has enough charm and humor to divert us for an hour and a half.
B (1 hr., 24 min.; in French with subtitles; )