By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 06, 2004 at 5:05 AM

{image1}Don't let them fool you. Although the new French film "Bon Voyage" is being touted as a comedy, it certainly doesn't feel like one. The story of Nazis, politicians, actresses and scientists, is earnestly acted and well-scripted, but while there's some subtle wit, it's no comedy.

Oddly enough, for a French film, there's not all that much explicit romance, either. Although there's a lot of implied romance, there are no sex scenes and almost no physical contact of any kind, in fact.

Directed and co-written by Jean-Paul Rappeneau ("Cyrano de Bergerac"), "Bon Voyage" stars Isabelle Adjani as Viviane, the biggest film star in late 1930s Paris. Men are drawn to her and pay her far more attention that she would like and in the case of one man, the attention leads to disaster. Her life-long friend and admirer Frederic (Gregori Derangere) steps in to help her and lands in prison.

When the Germans arrive in Paris, the prison gates fly open and Frederic flees to Bordeaux with fellow prisoner Raoul (Yvan Attal), where he runs into Viviane, who is now engaged in an affair with a powerful minister Beaufort (Gerard Depardieu). Along the way, they meet Kopolski (Jean-Marc Stehle), a physics professor attempting to take his "heavy water" -- required for atomic reactions -- to England. At his side is his lovely young assistant Camille (Virginie Ledoyen).

Everyone's paths cross, as you might expect, in Bordeaux once word gets out that the professor is there with his water. Winckler (Peter Coyote), a German spy, is also more than a little interested, too ... in both Viviane and in the heavy water.

Despite the backdrop of war and French politics, the story's nominal love interests and Viviane's attempts to prevent Frederic being re-arrested and yet saving her own skin, the film ultimately focuses on Kopolski's ability to get out of the country before he and his water can be usurped by the French or the Germans.

"Bon Voyage" is something of an odd case. While it's hard to fault anything -- everything from the costumes to the music to the performances is well-done -- there's also a spark missing and in the end "Bon Voyage" feels more like a low-key public television film rather than an engaging and driving drama about World War II espionage.

"Bon Voyage" opens Fri., May 7 at Landmark's Oriental Theatre.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.