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Autobus Review

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Based on true events, Bruno is upset when his holiday romance ends and he has to return to his mundane trivial lifestyle. Slowly he begins to crack and finally as a desperate measure he hijacks his school bus and demands that the driver take him to find his lost love, unsure if she even feels the same.

★★★★

Bruno (Attal) is a goofy young man who is bored out of his box living in his grey, provincial home town. Only one thing makes his life worthwhile and that’s the sweet thought of Juliette (Gainsbourg), a trainee hairdresser, with whom he had a brief holiday fling. However, she lives miles away and feelings may not be reciprocal.

What might seem like another leaden tale of disaffected youth locked into a weary and hopeless humdrummery suddenly combusts as Bruno makes a move to surprise everyone and hijacks a school bus to take him to his paramour. Based on a true incident, it’s like a low-gear rendering of the John Hinckley/Jodie Foster affair. Bruno, like Hinckley, will go to any lengths to win the attention of his chosen girl. As the news breaks to the press he wins national fame as the “sentimental terrorist”, while a retinue of zealous police are on his trail.

Director/writer Eric Rochant follows his auspicious debut A World Without Pity with a veritable — and literal — tour de force. He carefully teases out the tensions in the edgy and claustrophobic bus as the teacher and driver on board juggle with the passionate and seemingly dangerous oddball. Like any good road movie, Autobus has a simple premise but it has all the thrills and pleasures of high voltage drama while managing to be poignant as well as darkly humourous as the characters unwind en route. Most of all, Yvan Attal’s performance as Bruno is a revelation — he has the mad, jittery energy of a young De Niro and is completely compulsive to watch. Rush out and buy a ticket to ride.

Autobus is a very unconventional road movie, but one that is compelling, dramatic and exciting. Attal gives a superb performance as Bruno, leaving the viewer feeling inspired to somehow break free from their own lives and do something different. Rochant proves how adept he is behind the camera with another success.