French writer/director Jérôme Reybaud’s feature debut that premiered at the Venice Film Festival during their Critics Week is an intriguing and extremely compelling love affair that stars France’s rather glorious countryside in this very unusual road movie. It is the story of two lovers, the younger one Pierre Thomas (a very convincing Pascal Cervo) who suddenly ups and mysterious leaves Paul (Arthur Igual) and their very comfortable life in Paris in the middle of night. He undertakes this unexplained odyssey driving into the heart of the country in his Alfa -Romeo guided solely by the Grindr app which he is using to pick up men so that he can have some meaningless sexual hookups. Within a day he is followed by Paul in a rental car who uses the same app to try and catch up with his fleeing lover.
Throughout the four days he is on the road Pierre Thomas has a some odd random encounters with people he encounters. There is the second rate singer (Fabienne Babe) he gives a lift to when her car breaks down on the way to another rather sad gig at a Seniors Assisted Living Home; the thief (Laetita Dosch) who he catches robbing him red-handed yet he allows 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 Chevé) 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 ‘straight” traveling salesman (Bertrand Nadler) so eager to test drive Pierre Thomas’s Alfa Romeo that he almost agrees to make out with him too.
The connecting factor to them all is an overwhelming sense of unshakeable loneliness which seems to a motive for his eagerness to keep on with his meandering pointless even though it in turn, only makes him even more isolated. The one time he seeks some sort of advice/support is when he pulls the car over to the side of the road and phones his actress godmother (a wonderful cameo from the legendary (Liliane Montevecchi) whose rather dramatic take on life sounds like it has been lifted from some role that she has played on the stage.
All the time Paul is edging closer, en route he is having some odd encounters of his own, and as time passes it is far from obvious if when the two lovers meet up with each other, will they be able to resolve whatever the problem is that started this flight in the first place.
There are parts of the movie that provoke memories of Alain Guiraudie’s award winning Stranger By The Lake, but that might be more to do with fact that they both share a theme of anonymous sex. However even though Four Days in France runs for a hefty 137 minutes, consists of a series of unsatisfactory brief relationships and lacks a destination in every sense of the word, it is still a beguiling movie with somewhat surprising resonance. It was an exceptionally brave choice for Reybaud to make for his debut feature, but it was one that paid off handsomely in the end.