France's eternal love of wine results in a nasty hangover in "One for the Road."

France’s eternal love of wine results in a nasty hangover in “One for the Road,” producer-cum-helmer Philippe Godeau’s melancholy portrait of a group of AA adherents confined to five weeks’ intensive rehab. A darker, flatter but more instructive “28 Days,” the pic is carried as far as it can go by star Francois Cluzet (“Tell No One”), playing a boozing journalist who checks into a detox program and discovers there’s more to life than a fine glass (or several bottles) of Merlot. So deadpan it feels both ironic and too self-serious, “Road” will lead to some local coin, but only to dry counties abroad.

Based on reporter Herve Chabalier’s autobiography about his battle with alcoholism, the story takes place in a French Alps retreat where Herve (Cluzet) confronts his dangerous addiction. He’s introduced to a quirky cast of characters — including a loudmouthed lush (Michel Vuillermoz) and a vodka-sipping vixen (Melanie Thierry) — who reveal the hazards of falling off the wagon too many times. Godeau (who founded Gallic shingle Pan-Europeenne) tackles the action all too safely, showcasing fine production values but making it all seem as systematic as a 12-step program.

One for the Road



A Wild Bunch Distribution release of a Pan-Europeenne, StudioCanal, France 3 Cinema, Rhones-Alpes Cinema production, in association with La Banque Postale Image 2, with participation of Canal Plus, CineCinema, France 3. (International sales: StudioCanal, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France.) Produced, directed by Philippe Godeau. Screenplay, Godeau, Agnes de Sacy, based on the book by Herve Chabalier.


Camera (color, widescreen) Jean-Marc Fabre; editor, Thierry Derocles; music, Jean-Louis Aubert; production designer, Therese Ripaud; costume designer, Anne Schotte. Reviewed at UGC Cine Cite Les Halles 12, Paris, Sept 24, 2009. Running time: 106 MIN.


Francois Cluzet, Melanie Thierry, Michel Vuillermoz, Eric Naggar, Lionnel Astier, Raphaeline Goupilleau, Eva Mazauric, Ninon Bretecher, Francoise Pinkwasser, Marilyne Canto, Arthur Moncla, Bernard Campan, Anne Consigny.

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