As far as calling cards go, French director Christophe Sahr could do worse than Voie Rapide, a well-made but rather non-descript look at the modern-day struggles of a young working-class husband faced with a moral dilemma. But while there's nothing intrinsically wrong with the script, originally workshopped at French film school Femis, neither the first-time director nor his co-writers and, crucially enough, his star Johan Libéreau manage to go the distance despite many intriguing leads that are solved in ways a bit too pat. Voie Rapide revolves around Alex (Mr. Libéreau), an unambitious, suburban warehouse worker who married too young and has a baby daughter he doesn't seem to care much ; what he really lives for is his impressively decked out car, a bright-yellow tuned-up convertible where he hangs out with his best friend, older mechanic Max (Guillaume Saunel), and the occasional street race. On his return from a ride, though, Alex hits fatally a young man and flees the site of the accident with a broken windshield and serious dents in the car's body, in a scene that Mr. Sahr shoots in a way that suggests it might not have entirely been Alex's fault. For the young man everything in his tightly compartmentalized life unravels from then on, his short fuse blowing up at regular intervals (a very smart scene with his mother suggests family issues and a genetic origin for this trait), driving away both his wife and his friends while finding himself following the mother of the boy he killed, a nurse at the local hospital. This is where Voie Rapide proves to be intriguing: in the way Mr. Sahr expertly lays out the limits of the life Alex has allowed himself to be trapped by, and then showing just how easily it can all come down once he puts a foot wrong. But Mr. Libéreau is unable to give any depth to a character that required first-rate acting to transcend the character's innate lack of sympathy; and this casting choice, coupled with the formally neutral, linear handling and the somewhat predictable narrative, fatally wounds a film that ends up being merely an appropriate, well-made professional calling card.

Johan Libéreau, Christa Théret, Guillaume Saunel, Isabelle Candelier.
     Director, Christophe Sahr; screenplay, Mr. Sahr, Olivier Gorce, Élodie Montlibert; cinematography, Julien Poupard (colour, processing by Sylicone, Panavision widescreen); music, Martin Wheeler; designer and costumes, Sidney Dubois; editor, Isabelle Poudevigne; producer, Florence Borelly (Sésame Films), France, 2011, 89 minutes.
     Screened: IndieLisboa 2012 advance screener, Lisbon, April 3rd 2012. 


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