They end up in a small, rustic guesthouse. Happy wherever she is, Magalie dances with joy in the yard (and on a table), where the other guests are having dinner. In a very sweet moment, as Blandine looks at her, she sees Magalie not as she is now, but as she was when they were friends, imagining dancing with her like they did in high school.
What elevates this film above the usual road trip gone wrong story is its tender exploration of what connects the two women beyond their history. This is a film about processing grief: Blandine about the loss of her husband and the life she thought she had; Magalie dwells on early trauma as the women finally talk about what drove them away. There is an element of frantic denial in Magalie’s elation and lingering self-pity in Blandine’s unwillingness to move on. This comes along with the introduction of a third character, who goes by the chosen name Bijou (jewel), played by British actress Kristin Scott Thomas (“Four Weddings and a Funeral”).
Bijou is Magalie’s friend. When the travelers find themselves stuck on an island other than Amorgos, Bijou welcomes them to the beautiful home she shares with a Greek artist named Dimitris (Panos Koronis). She shares Magalie’s view that every minute of life should be fun, but in a quieter moment, Blandine learns that there is loss and worry beneath Bijou’s embrace of pleasure. And there is also compassion. Scott Thomas does wonders with this role, creating a full, complex character and adding depth to the script. This is as much due to what she sees in Bijou as it is to the accumulated disappointments of the trip that cause Blandine (significantly renamed Bijou) to begin to be honest about her feelings for Magalie. Three times in the film we see how uncomfortable Blandine is with nudity, her own and anyone else’s. But she learns that refusing to see has missed important information and an opportunity for intimacy, not romantic or sexual, just a shared understanding with another person. Magalie learns that there is value in slowing down to pay attention to someone else. In these wonderful settings, far from home, they show us that a journey filled with unexpected detours can end up in a better destination than the one we plan.
Now plays in theaters.