At the urging of his filmmaker buddy (and fellow homosexual), the illegitimate son of an American G.I. and French mother goes to the U.S. in search of his father in “The Crossing.” Leisurely, moderately suspenseful widescreen docu accompanies Stephane Bouquet on his charmingly low-tech investigation, armed only with his father’s “name, birthdate, height and former profession: soldier.” Fest and tube dates are indicated.
Bouquet was born in 1967. When Charles de Gaulle kicked out the 26,000 U.S. soldiers stationed in France, his mom hadn’t told her Yank boyfriend she was carrying his child. When she changed her mind years later, her letter came back marked “addressee unknown.”
Speculating that his father may have died in Vietnam, Bouquet checks records in Washington, D.C., before renting a car and driving through Appalachia to Tennessee and Georgia. En route, he consults people and phone directories, and reluctantly allows the camera to document his physical and emotional odyssey.
Bouquet makes it clear that helmer Sebastien Lifshitz is more jazzed by the hunt than he is. Through frank voiceovers, he shares with the audience his ambivalence about springing his full-grown presence on an unsuspecting progenitor.
Bouquet and Lifshitz’s undisguised disdain for the soulless uniformity of roadside fast-food joints and cheap motels (“America is like a photocopied world”) contrasts with the courteous reception Bouquet gets as he draws closer and closer to finding out what became of the man he apparently looks like but knows nothing about.
Denouement leaves us happy for Bouquet and a bit queasy about Lifshitz, who has forced his recalcitrant friend to replace a lifetime of speculation about his “hollow shell” of a father with the truth.