Xavier Beauvois’ The Racer and the Jailbird stars Adèle Exarchopoulos and Matthias Schoenaerts in an intense, high-speed love affair.
Love in the Fast Laneby Alexa Dalby
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
The Racer and the Jailbird isn’t well served by its English title. Its French title translates as ‘the faithful man’, which better encapsulates its dramatic story of an obsessive love affair. Bibi (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is indeed, however unlikely, a racing car driver, and this is never developed unless to suggest that she is used to taking risks. At a celebratory event, she’s introduced to Gigi (Matthias Schoenaerts), a dashingly exciting, handsome man who describes himself as being in import/export.
Their high-octane love affair kicks off instantly. But Bibi at first is innocently unaware that his absences on ‘business trips’ are in fact when he’s robbing banks with his gang of other ex-juvenile offender friends. Even when she suspects the truth, their love burns stronger.
But when Gigi carries out one last job, the third act of the film takes the two lovers into unexpected and tragic areas that seem almost like a different sort of film altogether. Its spectacular fast-revving plot is suddenly wrenched into a seemingly endless, unfocussed, lower and more serious gear. Exarchopoulos and Schoenaerts give drivingly intense performances with urgent on-screen chemistry but the film’s end is long overdue.
The Racer and the Jailbird premiered in the UK at the 61st BFI London Film Festival and is released on 13 July 2018.