Just a Sigh (Le temps de l’aventure) is a French drama taking place in the meeting between two strangers – Alix (Emmanuelle Devos) and Doug (Gabriel Byrne) – during a short few days in Paris. Their at-first-sight attraction lead them to have a passionate affair, in spite of the fact that both have someone waiting for them at home.
The film is a beautiful meditation on the pitfalls of life and of love. With performances that don’t simply convince, but also engages, the portrayal of two people suddenly finding themselves at a crossroads is astute and to the point. So is the crossroads as their choices are limited: either go back the way they came or move forward and explore new territory.
Writer-director Jérôme Bonnell uses Paris effectively and allows the city the visual restraint needed to keep it from becoming too much of an outstretched hand to possible tourists and instead relax into a backdrop that is telling how Bonnell enjoys the city and knows it well. The pacing is steady and gives the characters time to breathe and react to the steps they take towards each other, making their inevitable meeting feel welcome rather than forced.
Moments of real humour lightens what might otherwise have been heavy themes of infidelity and soul searching, themes that most of us have already seen interpreted enough times, but which here places its focus full on the character journey and through this snatches your interest and refuses to let it go.
Four Chaplin’s out of Five.