Jet Lag

It's second-rate romantic comedy drivel.

Light and airy, director/co-writer Daniele Thompson's "Jet Lag" tells of a famous beautician (Juliette Binoche, "English Patient") meeting a renowned chef (Jean Reno, "La Femme Nikita") at Charles de Gaulle International Airport when all flights except this fanciful film have been canceled.

It's pure contrivance, right down to her having to use his cell phone and sharing his room. To the credit of his character and the non-teen ambience, sex does not seem to be high on the expectation list. Anyone who has had a flight canceled can understand where priorities lie.

The couple keep meeting and leaving each other as a metaphor for their on-again-off-again romance. They are connected to the action by the ubiquitous cell phone, which has gained a status in films as an intermediary between heroes and the world. Although the cell allows everyone to have more conversation, for this film the conversation, cell and otherwise, should be more limited: It's second-rate romantic comedy drivel, giving these high-class actors some low-caliber talking.

The scene where Reno creates a late-night snack for her in the hotel's kitchen is a fresh take on an old Tom-Jones motif of food and sex. Reno is charming, and Binoche carries on the Julia Roberts tradition of showing us how beautiful she can be with too-much makeup and too-little comedic talent. When she says, "Without my makeup, "I feel naked," I felt like shouting, "Let your self go--be naked!"

France loses out to England in 2002: "Jet Lag" is nowhere as witty as High Grant's "About a Boy." However, in the "big-nose-but-handsome" category, Jean Reno and Daniel Auteuil ("Girl on the Bridge," "The Closet") carry France's tri-color proudly. Julie and Juliette will have to fight it out for the flat-out beautiful honors, with or without makeup.

When Reno smells Binoche's strong perfume, he says, "What scares me is mediocrity mixed with complication." He should be a film critic.