Bon Voyage arrives like one of those old soldiers who stumbles from his hiding place unaware that the war is over and the world has changed – and with it, French cinema. At second glance, that’s the point and muted joke of Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s light historical farce, which turns a time of serious national hardship and shame – French appeasement of Hitler in 1940 on the eve of the German army’s occupation of Paris – into a busy comedy in which stock characters of classic French popular film curdle into pathetically self-involved fools bamboozled by a pretty woman’s smile. For emphasis, the director of the definitive version of ”Cyrano de Bergerac” (1990) casts the eerily unaging Isabelle Adjani as Viviane, a spoiled movie star who turns male admirers into hapless couriers of her whims. (As she did in ”Monsieur Ibrahim,” Adjani tweaks her own immobile allure even as she cultivates it.) Among those who fall are a struggling writer (Grégori Derangère), a spineless government minister (Gérard Depardieu), and a journalist (Peter Coyote) of untrustworthy allegiance. Representing a feminine alternative of moral principles as well as beauty, Virginie Ledoyen wears owlish glasses to play the young assistant of an old Jewish physicist, the two of them skirting danger of a Notorious kind.
Naturally, a Jean Gabin of a resourceful Everyman (Yvan Attal) interrupts his accidental acts of bravery to appreciate good wine; this is that kind of Gaul.