How can a movie be so ludicrous and so ecstatic at the same time? The Lovers on the Bridge stars Juliette Binoche as a street person (there, in a nutshell, is the ludicrous part) who was formerly an artist, but began to go blind and whose life fell apart as a result. She hooks up with a homeless street performer (Denis Lavant) who lives on a bridge in the middle of Paris that has been cordoned off for repairs. He falls madly in love with her; she can't bear the thought of being close to anyone. Both are more than a little irrational. But this banal scenario is merely the pretext for a series of lush and stunning images--including midnight water-skiing, fireworks displays, wandering through falling snow, burning posters in subway tunnels--and richly committed performances from the actors. It's not quite as overwhelming on video as it is on a movie screen, but there's such a gushing of emotional images that it's hard to resist the angst and yearning passion. Though the film dives into some cliches, it manages to avoid others; when Binoche's wealthy family starts looking for her, a frightened Lavant tries to keep her hidden away, and you really don't know whether their relationship can possibly survive. An unusual and sweeping film--and an example of the power of visual images to create a state of rapture. --Bret Fetzer
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