“I’ve never seen the sea. I’ve never seen the sea.” It is this logic that guides the heroine of the remake of the 1970 German film The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun to take a roundabout journey in a car that doesn’t belong to her. Based on a novel by Sébastien Japrisot (who wrote the script for the original), the movie tries its best to veer toward the genre of thriller, instead resulting in a glorified ad for the French coast and Thunderbirds. Set presumably some time in the 1970s, based on the music and car choice, the strange tale centers on mousy secretary Dany Dorémus (Freya Mavor), a shy type with a bit of a crush on her boss, Michel Caravaille (Benjamin Biolay). When Michel requests her help with a project that requires her to work the kind of overtime that will necessitate her spending the night, she assumes that he’s expressing an interest in her in spite of the fact that he’s married to a former co-worker of hers, Anita (Stacy Martin).
Upon realizing that his interest is all in her head, Dany goes somewhat crazy on a seeming split personality level. After all, there is something about being insecure regarding one’s looks that can make a girl feel a bit batty. This is potentially why she’s willing to go along with just about anything Michel and Anita ask of her, evidently, as they insist that she drive them and their daughter to Orly so she can take the Thunderbird back afterward. Something comes over her once they leave her, however, and after having a drink at the airport bar, she decides to let her wild side get the better of her and head to the south instead of back to Paris.
Stopping along the way at places where people seem to recognize her from before, Dany can’t shake the sensation that she’s losing her mind, that there’s a part of herself she has been suppressing until now. Letting all of her inhibitions go, she gives in to the charms of a man at a hotel named Georges (Elio Germano), who threatens to tell the police that the car she’s driving isn’t hers if she doesn’t give him a ride to Monte Carlo. Not wanting to attract attention and slightly intrigued by Georges–whose name she later finds out is Vincenzo–she agrees to his demand, not to mention sleeps with him while flashing to images of her boss.
Upon driving away together, Georges parks the car along a deserted road where he guides Dany to the edge of the water nearby. He goads her both for her lack of experience with men and for having sex with him so easily. Confused and bewildered, Dany doesn’t know what to do when Georges pretends to go to the car to get something and then simply leaves her behind. Using a piece of strategically stated information that Georges “off-handedly” mentioned to her from before, Dany approaches a truck driver at a gas station to ask if he would be so kind as to ask his fellow travelers on his CB radio if they’ve spotted a Thunderbird anywhere. Using tips from the drivers, Dany finds Michel’s car again, with a dead body in the trunk, to boot.
As we continue to pray that Sfar will give us the titillating answers we deserve, and not simply rely on the slick look of Southern France as a hot and annoyingly daft girl drives through it, we are confronted, in the end, with an extremely flimsy explanation that relies on faux elaborateness to mask how utterly nonsensical it is. While some of Michel’s breakdown of what really happened to Dany offers gems of wisdom like, “I know she is genuinely, pathetically a little girl herself” and “It was all eyewash. No one pays any attention to anyone,” the only thing profound about The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun is its soundtrack.