(making contact at a single point along a line — touching, but not intersecting; a sudden digression or change of course)
On the Road Again : A short road film by French filmmaker, Vincent Vesco.
In just twelve minutes, Vesco tells the story of two young people who make contact at a point in their lives when both are wandering — "coming from nowhere, going nowhere". They touch and set out on a road trip they assume will be a continuation of their individual freewheeling journeys, only to find that they have experienced a digression. They have changed.
Vesco’s film is timely, sexy, and captivating in every way. The story line follows two levels of narration: that of the present, and that of memories of the past. In the establishing shots, we see a young woman rising from her bed in a graffiti covered bedroom. We then flashback to a young man washing his car and offering the young woman a ride to wherever she wants to go. We know nothing about either one of them and they know nothing about each other. They set off on a journey with no plans, no commitments and no direction. At one point, the young man, wonderfully acted by the handsome young French film star, Aurelian Wilk, admires the woman’s life — her ability to laugh, cry and not let herself get bogged down.
Through a series of flashbacks from the bedroom to the road, the couple’s relationship grows. The woman becomes pregnant and they face a dilemma. Can they continue to lead their carefree rock and roll lives, or will they have to assume adult responsibilities and settle down? Throughout the production, the director remained focused on giving his characters a sense of “… well-being, optimism and freshness. They are always conscious of remaining true to their ideals when they are faced with difficult choices.” The young woman, played by Parisian born actress, Sarah Grappin, suggests terminating the pregnancy — saying a child would interfere with her dreams. She tells the man that “the day you stop dreaming, you’re dead.” The young man sees no reason why they can’t have the child and continue as they are.
One of the outstanding features of this film is the cinematography. As the couple journeys, so does the audience. Through two thousand miles of the French countryside, little hill villages, outdoor cafes in picturesque cities and the streets of Paris, we are there. Vesco says that the success of his shooting is based on precise scouting. Every camera angle is carefully thought out in relation to the light. He worked with a very precise shooting script and left nothing to chance. Employing a small caravan of 20 people and five vehicles, Vesco and his team were able to move quickly and easily with little equipment and only natural light with the help of a reflector. He chose the super 16mm camera for shooting because of its small size and ease of handling.
Music is another important element of the film. The road music fits perfectly with the couple’s rock ‘n roll demeanor. It is hard, loud and edgy. At one point, we even see a Bob Dylan record sleeve. Interestingly, when they are not riding, the music stops, and dialogue takes over, creating an effective counterbalance between dialogue and music.
La Tangente is a road film in every sense. The characters played out their odyssey on the road and the crew lived like the characters — on the road. More than a film, the work was an adventure, giving the crew the feeling that they, too, were searching for freedom. With its sexy story line, engrossing back and forth time frame and its gorgeous cinematography, La Tangente has caught on. To date, it has played in film festivals worldwide and has won several jury awards.
Written by Shirley Baugher