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Brief Crossing (2001)

Title: Brief Crossing
Year: 2001
Original title: Brève traversée
Runtime: 1 hour, 21 minutes
Country: France
Language: French | English
Subtitles: English (.srt)
Genre: Comedy | Drama | Romance

Director: Catherine Breillat

Sarah Pratt … Alice
Gilles Guillain … Thomas
Marc Filipi … Magicien
Laëtitia Lopez … Assistante magicien
Marc Jablonski … Cuisinier du self
Christelle Dacosta … Douanier Français
Nicholas Hawtrey … Vieil anglais
Franck Lemaitre … Serveur de la boite
Philippe Quaisse … Photographe
Jean-Claude Cavelier … Serveur de la boite
Alexandre Le Balidec … Douanier Français

Plot / Synopsis

Like Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Claire Denis’ Friday Night, Catherine Breillat’s Brief Crossing throws two attractive strangers together on a short European journey. Thomas, a sullen French 16-year-old accustomed to using his looks to slide by, and his shipmate Alice, a mysterious Englishwoman with a laundry list of gripes about her marriage and about how men treat women in general, aren’t as charming as the couples in the aforementioned films, and they certainly don’t seem made for each other. But Breillat manages to make the relationship that develops between them believable, while subverting convention by putting Thomas in the traditionally female role of the sex object. While his character is an open question — he initially seems a typically self-obsessed teen — his designs on Alice are quickly clear. Alice is much harder to pin down. She sometimes seems eager to offer Thomas a life lesson; at other times, she seems content to humiliate him. Will she reward him for being younger and more innocent than the men who have wronged her, or will she take advantage of his vulnerability to get some sort of vicarious revenge? Alice has a quiet intensity in the early scenes, but her anger shines through in the disquieting intensity of her startling blue eyes. The film is a talky, but Breillat’s camera is frequently moving, swirling around the characters as they spar and dance with each other. Breillat’s great achievement here is that, from its opening moments to the final little twist, Brief Crossing is a compelling and believable story

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