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La Fille de L'Air Review

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Only recently getting out of jail herself, for helping her husband rob a store, but leaving a policeman dead, a woman plans to break her man out of prison with the aid of a helicopter. Based on a true story, it sticks faithfully to real events, meaning it's not as exciting as it could be.

★★★★★

Based on the true story of Nadine Vaujour who tried to spring her husband from prison by helicopter in 1986, this largely fails to work as the grand love story it would dearly like to be but scores with bluntly effective action sequences, climaxing in the rescue attempt.

Beginning with scenes of somewhat misty meaning, it becomes clear that Brigette (Dalle) is in love with Philippe (Girardot) whose botched armed raid on a supermarket leaves a policeman dead and wins the couple his-and-hers arrow-patterned pyjamas — she as an accomplice. Though Brigette, now with a daughter, gets out fairly quickly, Philippe, due to his long record of both going to and escaping from prison, is retained at his President's pleasure for a phone-number sentence, so it's flying lessons for the single-minded Brigette.

Showing a commitment to integrity over entertainment that would have an L.A. producer weeping over his laptop, Bagdadi hasn't even tried to embellish the bones of his story with any meaty dramatics. And, unfortunately, there is a limping mundanity in the execution of this tale of rescue that might have been avoided had the director documented Philippe's time inside, an experience which drives him close to suicide and a failed escape attempt. Even as a love story the film does not work effectively, with Brigette's pledge of everlasting love coming in stark contrast to Philippe's macho emotional distance.

There are elements of quality here — Girardot has a compelling and desperate presence, Dalle is fine though perhaps physically unsuited to playing an everywoman, and Bagdadi handles the action with the assurance of John Woo — but this never quite produces the spark to ignite a potentially fiery story.

Beatrice Dalle became typecast as a bit of a loon after Betty Blue so who better to play a woman determined to break her husband out of jail with a helicopter. Although based on a true story, it could have done with a little less 'basing' and a little more 'exaggerating' as the film could have been a big hit.

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