EN ROUE LIBRE, an awesome road movie that lives up to its name

EN ROUE LIBRE, an awesome road movie that lives up to its name

Looking at the poster of EN ROUE LIBRE, you say to yourself: “it’s brilliant, the title of the film is a play on words, a fine tradition of French comedies that you never get tired of”. You’re probably referring to works like L’Arnacœur or Un homme à haut, whose amusing titles are promises (kept) of funny films. Well, you’re totally right, because EN ROUE LIBRE is a little candy of humor and sweetness, which bears its name very well.

The story ofFREE WHEEL is simple, but original: one morning, in Beaune, an exhausted nurse on the verge of burnout (Marina Fois) has a panic attack which is manifested by a psychic blockage: she is unable to get out of her car. This situation does not help Paul (Benjamin Voisin), angry little thug who came to steal the vehicle to go to Cap Ferret. He finds himself despite himself forced to kidnap the nurse, Louise, hidden in the back, and travel with her. This incongruous encounter will be an opportunity for these two injured and alone characters – they both have complicated family situations that they reveal throughout the film – to move forward, literally, in their Volvo 240 Break, as figuratively, in their lives.

Now you think “yeah yet another French dramatic comedy on neuroses so”, but this time you are wrong. It is not the case at all ; you have in front of you a refreshing and benevolent nugget, full of tasty punchlines.

This film redefines with a lot of novelty and freshness the concept of the “road-movie”, a very codified cinematographic genre. A film about a road trip is not only defined by the fact that it takes place on the road; the road-movie symbolizes the departure towards freedom, youth, the desire to leave everything behind to enjoy and above all to discover oneself. The perfect example of this genre: the film adaptation of the book On the road by Jack Kerouac, directed by Walter Halls in 2012, in which three young Americans leave everything to leave in a van fleeing their reality, finding sex, drugs and other encounters on their way, but above all getting to know each other better. A quest for meaning that always happens for a reason, at a constructive moment in the hero’s life. To leave, to find oneself.

Photo from the film EN ROUE LIBRE by Didier Barcelo
Credits: Stephanie Branchu

In FREE WHEEL, the base of the road-movie is completely reversed, which gives this brilliant and unexpected result. Louise finds herself psychologically locked in her car because of her anxiety attack, then physically forced by this young man to cross France from east to west. Quite the opposite of a departure chosen on a liberating whim and yet, with great irony, Louise and Paul will experience this crazy emancipation. They winnow each other, confide in each other, take turns calling each other “crazy”… Very quickly, the objectives of the two characters – for Paul, to avenge the death of his brother, and for Louise, to get out of her car – will become secondary. , each focusing on the needs of the other and finally feeling useful. Stuck together, Paul learns to take care of Louise, she who is so used to taking care of others. Louise and Paul seek each other and meet with more fragility than they care to admit.

Between the talented Benjamin Voisin and the awesome Marina Fois, the complicity of this almost mother / son relationship is apparent from the first minutes. The scathing repartee between the two is a treat. Whether Benjamin Voisin is a young actor, he is far from being a beginner. In lost illusionswhich won him the César for best male hope, he already formed a brilliant duo with Vincent Lacosteboth sharing that detached and sarcastic air.

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Lost Illusions

The supporting roles encountered during the road trip are hilarious, each crazier than the next. Special mention for the overexcited hitchhiker who goes to Limoges for a congress bringing together electro-sensitive people. If these characters are on their way, it is not a coincidence: all are there to signify that each is the madman of another, without ever noticing it. We all have a touch of madness and that’s fine. This road movie reminds us perfectly.

Agatha Rosa

Original title : Freewheeling
Achievement : Didier Barceló
Script : Didier Barcelo, Marie Deshairs
Main actors : Marina Fois, Benjamin Voisin, Jean-Charles Clichet
Release date : June 29, 2022
Duration : 1h29min

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