I had only seen one movie from Jean-Paul Rappeneau when The Horseman on the Roof (1995) came my way, so I looked up my review of that film, Bon Voyage (2003), and saw that my initital response was: “an often-fascinating, always-clever film made in a style that went out of vogue about 40 years ago.” That was exactly how I felt about The Horseman on the Roof — except I was less fascinated and found the film less clever. Oh, it’s enjoyable, but it feels almost reactionary — and sometimes a little bit foolish — in its detemined old fashionedness. Part of this expensive ($35 million) film’s obvious intent was to turn Olivier Martinez into a breakthrough star on an international level — and we all know that didn’t happen and hasn’t happened yet. As a result, it tries a little too hard and puts too much on the actor’s shoulders (especially, since he’s up against Juliette Binoche). It’s still a reasonably entertaining adventure involving the two main characters trying to make their way through France in the midst of a cholera epidemic. Not only are they prey to the possibility of disease, but the very real chance of being locked up in quarantine before they can reach their goals. (She’s trying to return to her aged husband and he’s trying to transport gold into his native Italy to finance a revolution.) The adventure aspect is more convincing than their inevitable romance, and its notions of cholera are on the quaint side. But it’s certainly a handsome movie and successful enough in its own right.
The Hendersonville Film Society will show The Horseman on the Roof Sunday, Sept. 8, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.