The Film: Bon Voyage
It begins in a theater in France prior to the German invasion, not that the film is about WWII exactly. It’s about a network of characters who are affected, some more than others, by the invasion and the series of events that begins with an actress.
The story moves. Quickly. Much like the characters, it is propelled forward. With cross-crossing paths, humor, adventure, and layers of mystery, it doesn’t stop until it’s over. Nothing is rushed, clearly there are no lazy writers here, but there’s never a moment when the story seems unsure. Confidence is key and both the directing and performances reflect it.
Yvan Attal steals the show for me, he always does, but the stellar ensemble pulls you into the story immediately. Every character is equally interesting. Yes, even the women, who are both vital to the story but not used as pawns. They each have fully developed wants and needs. On one hand you have the eternally helpless actress, played by the ageless Isabelle Adjani, and on the other is the brave apprentice, played by the charming Virginie Ledoyen. The protagonist, played by Grégori Derangère, is the perfect combination of boy and man as the character’s naivete and becomes courage. and though his credits are not extensive, he feels like a star. Gérard Depardieu plays a leader in the time of crisis with precision. As a dramatic and comedic actor I enjoyed that he was able to be an understated version of both. It’s clear in this film why he’s a beloved French icon. The lesson here is when French stars get together in a film, you get Bon Voyage. When it happens in America you get New Year’s Day. Clearly quality sides with the French.
Two scenes stand out in my mind as prime examples of the dichotomy of humor and action in the film. The first is the scene with the actress and the writer when she’s trying to avoid talking to by purchasing a hat, the second is the suspenseful action in the foggy woods. Bon Voyage is unique, it holds that pleasurable mix of adventure, romance, comedy, and beating the Nazis. It works as a popcorn movie but also demands repeat viewings. Though not because it’s hard to understand, it’s just that darned good.
The Food: Gingersnap Roasted Almonds
There are a lot recipes out there for roasted nuts which have precise measurements. This is not one of them. It was more of a late night experiment so I can’t tell you exactly the right amounts. Think of it more as an inspiration. A tasty, tasty inspiration.
Set oven at 350°
Mix in a Ziplock bag and shake to coat
Gingersnaps, about 1/2 cup finely crushed— The gingersnaps I buy are snappy, are made with whole wheat, and are very spicy.
Raw almonds , about 2 cups — I didn’t make the whole bag but I sure will next time!
Citrus juice, about 1/4 cup — I used fresh squeezed lemon and orange juice but you could use store-bought juice and reduce the sugar.
Cinnamon & ginger , about 1 tsp each — I used quite a bit of each. I like the spices a lot but you could omit them or swap them if you wanted.
Sugar, about 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup — The first 1/4 cup goes in with the above ingredients. The other half is reserved for sprinkling on during baking.
Spread on a baking sheet sprayed with PAM for baking. After 10 minutes, turn up to 400° and roast until bubbly. Remove from oven, turn and coat with 2 -3 tablespoons of sugar and more spices, if desired. Reduce temperature to 324° and roast until the almond no longer tastes raw and the liquid had become a thick caramel like coating.
Remove from oven. Add more sugar, nutmeg and sea salt if desired. As they cool they will harden. If there are any loose bits of sticky coating, while still warm, but not hot press them onto almonds by hand. Let cool and enjoy!