“Four Days in France”
Casual Sex and Encounters
One morning, Pierre (Pascal Cervo) suddenly decides to leave his partner Paul and go on a journey, without a destination and far from Paris. When Paul (Arthur Igual) finds this out, he hires a car to track him down.
The two main themes of the film are the relationship between the obsessive and mysterious Pierre and the desperate Paul on the other and the beautiful landscapes of a less urban France, between Paris, the Southern coast and the Alps. We also see the trail that is a result of the Grindr Smartphone app as we follow on the heels of the trail that Grindr leaves the protagonists. This is a road movie full of casual encounters with more or less charming characters who paint a portrait of society that is relatively unusual for French film.
Grindr is an App famous for facilitating homosexual encounters and works using geolocation technology. This is the original premise for the debut fictional feature written and directed by Jérôme Reybaud.
All of the encounters here that we see (even the most unlikely—a second class singer who performs at old people’s homes to make ends meet, a young lover who dreams of moving to the big city, an Italian car enthusiast, a petty thief, etc.) seem to come out of loneliness and that this is almost a necessary condition for their very existence. We see no latent threat in the singular act of getting to know someone in a more or less neutral and natural place, and this relative unfamiliarity brings about unexpected and surprising situations and dialogues, as if the director is trying to tell us that the secret to authenticity lies in making an odyssey lasting four days without a destination bearable for audiences.
The original title of the film (“Jours de France”) is almost identical to that of famous French cycling race the Tour de France and perhaps this is an attempt to create proximity between the audience and the strangers that live in their country.
The film is an intriguing and extremely compelling love affair that stars France’s gorgeous countryside and it is the story of two lovers, the younger one Pierre Thomas who suddenly and mysterious leaves Paul and their very comfortable life in Paris in the middle of night. He undertakes an unexplained odyssey driving into the heart of the country in his Alfa-Romeo with the app Grindr as his guide. He uses Grindr to pick up men so that he can have some meaningless sexual hookups. Within a day, Paul follows him in a rental car and uses the same app to try and catch up with him.
Throughout the four days that he is on the road Pierre has some odd random encounters with people he encounters including a second rate singer (Fabienne Babe) he gives a lift to when her car breaks down on the way to sing at a Seniors Assisted Living Home; the thief (Laetita Dosch) who he catches robbing him yet allows her to negotiate what she can keep ; his ex-English teacher (Nathalie Richard) who moved to the countryside to marry but now widowed and runs a bookstore. There is also a young handsome man (Mathieu Cheve) desperate to leave his small country town and after he has sex with Pierre Thomas pleads with him to be taken back to Paris; and the so-called “straight” traveling salesman so eager to test drive Pierre Thomas’s Alfa Romeo that he almost agrees to make out with him too.
What connects them all is a sense of unshakeable loneliness and this is a motive for his eagerness to keep on with his pointless meandering even though it in turn, only makes him even more isolated. The one time that he actually wants some sort of advice/support is when he phones his actress godmother (Liliane Montevecchi).
All the time Paul is gets closer to him, Pierre is having some odd encounters of his own, and as time passes it is far from obvious if or when the two lovers meet up with each other again, if they will be able to resolve whatever the problem is that started this flight in the first place.
What is so interesting is that this film consists of unsatisfactory brief relationships and lacks a destination in every sense of the word, it is still charming to watch.