Brief Crossing Movie Review

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Director Catherine Breillat has made a few very interesting films simply by taking a damaged woman and a damaged man, squeezing them into a weird relationship, letting them indulge in some troubling sex, and then forcing them to talk about it. The best example is her notorious 1999 effort Romance, in which the woman talks to her boyfriend's naked crotch as often as she talks to his face, but equally interesting is Brief Crossing, a two-character tango that takes place during one night on an English Channel ferry.

French teenager Thomas (Gilles Guillain) boards the British-bound ferry, finds a place to drop his backpack, and then heads for the cafeteria. While sliding his tray down the line, he gallantly helps Alice (Sarah Pratt) with her dishes and silverware. They sit together in the crowded restaurant, and the dance begins.

For a kid who's only about 17 (he keeps changing his age) but looks more like 14, Thomas is a cocky guy, perfectly comfortable sliding right into flirtation with the much older Alice, who, despite her chattiness, is deeply mysterious. She reveals that she's returning to England after the dissolution of a long relationship. Thomas smells blood in the water and flirts even harder, but soon Alice is parrying with force, giving all her opinions about men and relationships and sex, mocking Thomas for being a mere child.

The conversation moves to the ship's bar, where a magic act takes place on stage while Alice throws back brandies and Thomas watches carefully to see if she may be getting just drunk enough. The more world-weary and belligerent Alice gets, the younger Thomas seems, and yet the younger he seems, the more she seems to be attracted to him. It's a long dance of seduction played out with recriminations, body language, and looks, but it's clear where this is all going. Just when Thomas's nerves are stretched to the breaking point, the couple makes their way to Alice's cabin.

The graphic sex scene that follows is a battle unto itself, with Alice the obvious winner. Like any horny teenager in this situation, Thomas is suddenly totally in love and immediately begins planning for their life together in England. But Alice's eyes tell a different story.

By the time the ship docks, Alice's true cruelty is revealed, upending the conventional wisdom about the inherent dishonesty of men and the typical victimhood of women who find themselves used and discarded by men.

It's quite a boat ride, and it's a quick one. Coming in at about 80 minutes, Brief Crossing is brief indeed, but it packs several gut punches along the way. Make this a date movie, and you'll have plenty to talk about when it's over.

Aka Brève traversée.

Next, on Crossing Over.

Cast & Crew

Producer : Jean-Pierre Guérin

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Comments

Brief Crossing Rating

" Good "

Rating: NR, 2001

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