10 February 2013 | lazarillo
Kind of European version of a "road movie"
Five French college-age youths decide to take a backpacking trip around Europe, riding in trains and staying in low-rent hostels. It's an experience probably all young Europeans and probably no small number of young Americans have had, but this group is even more broke and has even more misadventures than usual. The youths are the typical types: One girl (Ludivine Sagnier) is vivacious and flirty (which gets her in trouble on several occasions but she keeps doing it). One of the boys is attracted to Sagnier's character, but also questions his sexual identity after he meets a former teacher who's gay. Then there's a bickering male-female couple--the male is the anal-retentive one who tries to map out the whole trip (with disastrous results) while his long-suffering girlfriend flirts with infidelity. Finally, there is a sullen, big-boned girl who is a bit of a waistoid and kleptomaniac (not to mention, apparently not fully house-broken).
They're not, overall, a very likable bunch. They wreck a houseboat they're staying in for no real reason and TWICE pull the emergency brake on a train (which I would think would have more serious legal consequences). They have to depend on--and then usually take advantage of--the kindness of strangers. Still, this is a pretty light and breezy movie and it's hard to take anything that happens here very seriously. The characters all learn "lessons", but this is a pretty trite film and they're pretty trite lessons.
There's not nearly as much sex in this as there is in your usual French film (aside from a few bare breasts it would be PG-13 in America). This is not really a problem though, and is only regrettable in that Ludivine Sagnier was about the cutest and sexiest thing around back then, but then you're really better off watching the early films she did with Francois Ozon ("Water Drops on Burning Rocks" and "Swimming Pool") for a lot of reasons. Sagnier is still pretty hot stuff (witnessd by her recent portrayal of Uday Hussein's mistress in "The Devil's Double") and has become quite a good actress (witnessed by her performance in "Love Crimes" and a couple Claude Chabrol movies). She's not bad here, but she's pretty much on the same level as everyone else. The BEST reason to watch this, at any rate, isn't the great acting, character development, or the profound "life lessons", but rather the European scenery and landmarks and the fun spirit-of-adventure of a what is really a kind of European "road movie".