Welcome Aboard (M) 88 mins
Perhaps it's the combined age of leading man Patrick Chesnais and director Jean Becker - 145 - that makes this subtitled French tale, originally called Bienvenue parmi nous, so unconvincing.
Chesnais is excellent as deeply depressed painter Paul Taillandier, undergoing a decade-long artistic version of writer's block, who buys a hunting rifle and drives off intending to end it all, only to be halted by a teenage hitchhiker thrown out of home by her abusive stepfather.
But Jeanne Lambert, who plays 15-year-old Marilou, offers an uneven, often wooden performance, and in what's essentially a two-hander, that's enough to place a considerable dent in proceedings.
The story, a standard voyage-of-discovery, is sound enough, but the rough edges are too neatly smoothed in search of a pace the movie doesn't achieve - the suggestive nature of an old man travelling with an attractive teen is only briefly canvassed and, given the film is all about depression, the happy ending is somewhat trite.
It's Becker's direction that fails to lend it the necessary vitality - endless scenes of Taillandier behind the wheel, sweeping shots of his car driving along country roads and a noodling soundtrack are a throwback to less sophisticated telemovies of two decades ago.
- Sunday Star Times