On My Way
This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, 4th May 2014
This unexpected little road movie capitalises on French filmstar Catherine Deneuve’s timeless beauty and apparent willingness to throw herself convincingly into any farcical situation. The result is an engaging enough tale, though audiences will be divided on whether they find its contrivances happy or cloying.
When elegantly aging restaurantrice, Bettie, suffers a blow to her personal life, a quest for a much-needed cigarette turns rather improbably into a long weekend away. She encounters, as one does in the road trip genre, a host of colourful characters – some designated to impart wisdom, others there to remind her of the triumphs and losses of her past. Bettie talks, she listens, she learns.
Managing to look sensational despite wearing the same outfit for days, Bettie’s journey becomes more personal and our sympathies grow when she treks to take care of the grandson she has seldom seen. Her relationship with Charly (played by the delightful Nemo Schiffman, son of the film’s writer and director Emmanuelle Bercot) provides some of the film’s strongest moments (even as you flinch at how the child sometimes talks to his granny!). However, later interactions in the story feel clichéd and at times uncomfortable, as the plot winds its way through French countryside to a predictable conclusion.
Essentially just a Deneuve vehicle, On My Way is to be applauded for attempting to offer something more than France’s usual raft of exportable farce but it seems to run out of gas on its way.