An earnest, seemingly authentic but strangely unengaging account of life in a physical therapy center, “Blue Clear Across to America” follows a diverse group of quadriplegics and paraplegics as they strive to recover. Color scheme and gung-ho lensing establish a world apart from normal life; but what should be poignant, even inspiring, is too often emotionally inert. There are no narrative sparks — just a marginally insightful portrait of a contained community in flux.

Central protag Camille (Samuel Jouy) arrives completely paralyzed and unable to breathe unassisted after a scuba-diving accident. Staff and patients of the under-funded facility tackle daily routines, with emotional adjustments proving as crucial as physical ones. Center has its own hierarchy and cruel humor — even its own violent gang, whose thugs operate from wheelchairs and crutches. Camille recovers use of his upper body and starts a tentative romance with cute Solange (Marion Cotillard),who is initially in a coma. Lone doc is played with harried compassion by Albert Dupontel, the lead in Michel Deville’s recent M.D. pic, “La maladie de Sachs.”

Blue Clear Across to America

France

Production

A Noria Films/Little Big Films release (in France) of an Alta Loma Films/Mact Prods./Le Studio Canal Plus/Arte France Cinema production. (International sales: UGC Intl., Paris.) Produced by Didier Boujard, Martine de Clermont-Tonnerre. Directed, written by Sarah Levy.

Crew

Camera (color), Jean-Max Bernard; editor, Jacqueline Mariani; music, Ramon Pipin; art director, Jean-Vincent Puzos; costume designer, Bernadette Strassmann. Reviewed at L'Entrepot, Paris, Dec. 14, 1999. Original title: Du bleu jusqu'en Amerique. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Samuel Jouy, Marion Cotillard, Albert Dupontel, Claude Perron, Zabou Breitman, Feodor Atkine, Franck Gourlat, Edouard Montoute, Yves Afonso, Louise Boisvert.
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