Just a Sigh

Emmanuelle Devos and Gabriel Byrne star in this French update of Brief Encounter; you can tell it’s French because, in contrast to the earlier movie’s dignity, reserve, and self-denial, the centerpiece of this one is a hungry, heavy-breathing sex scene. Devos plays an impulsive actress traveling by rail from Calais to Paris for an audition, and Byrne is a staid British professor riding the same train en route to the funeral of an old friend. After some serious eye contact across the aisle, they part, but the actress tracks the professor down at the church and they engage in a prolonged pas de deux that ends in his hotel room. The movie loses steam once the sexual relationship is consummated, though Devos manages to keep it afloat in the second half as the actress peels away for her own adventure and writer-director Jérôme Bonnell develops a subplot that will force the lovers to part for good. In English and subtitled French.