A friend of mine who used to work at the police force once joked that the policemen looked more like accountants rather then the handsome, buffed men that you see in films or TV series. It is a similar case with academics – there are endless movies and TV episodes about people having affairs with professors. Now, being within the academic circle, I’m afraid to tell you that you’d have more chance finding a Thylacine than spotting a professor who looks like Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins or George Clooney. Maybe looks is not the main reason – but I digress.
Gabriel Byrne does quite a convincing portrayal of Doug, a literature professor in Just a Sigh (Le temps de l’aventure). The movie is marketed as a grown-up version of Before Sunrise – two strangers who meet on a train and end up being quite besotted with one another. There’s a hint of The Bridges of Madison County as well: should Alix (Emanuelle Devos) follow Doug to England after a day of impromptu affair? With this premise, the movie should be quite rewarding – alas the movie is as unappetising as a vapid espresso. The first few minutes of the movie are spent showing Alix running around like a headless chook, going to her audition via her apartment after taking a train from Calais to Paris. Alix is an actress in an Ibsen play in Calais, whereas her boyfriend – Antoine – and the rest of her family live in Paris. There are parts of the movie that could have been better spent trying to delve deeper into the characters – or at least showing some well-crafted conversations.
The director (Jérôme Bonnell) also hasn’t done enough to convince me why Alix should fall in love (or lust) with Doug – at least with Before Sunrise, the characters had some ‘meaningful’ conversation before they realise they are quite enamoured with each other. There are parts of the movie that are quite charming and there are also some sentimental reasons for me to like the movie – however, such moments are far outweighed by me trying to like the characters or at least trying to empathise with them. The movie unfortunately doesn’t give me enough reason to do so.