There’s a peculiarly spellbinding quality to “4 Days in France” that is partly attributable to its premise. This feature debut of the writer and director Jérôme Reybaud opens with a baby-faced 30-something, Pierre (Pascal Cervo), training a phone flashlight on his lover Paul (Arthur Igual). He then leaves Paul’s Paris apartment and drives an Alfa Romeo into rural France. The fantasy of walking out on your life and aimlessly wandering around can beguile even the most contentedly domesticated among us.
Pierre is also looking to quench a thirst. He regularly checks his Grindr app, and at a roadside restroom, scans the stall graffiti and calls a number advertising sex services. He also picks up people along the roadside, not for cruising purposes, but to be of help. The first is a middle-age woman who is booked to sing at a senior home. The characters encountered are a bit more colorful than the ones you are likely to come across in real life, but not so much that they seem overtly allegorical. As Pierre roams, Paul embarks on a quest of his own, traveling to the center of the country to look for his lover via concentric Grindr circles.
Some of this story is mildly whimsical, and there are ramps into some kind of magical realism (a blizzard at the French-Italian border is a little far-fetched). There are a lot of shots from behind a car windshield. These are more allied with Vincent Gallo’s “The Brown Bunny” than with Monte Hellman’s more lyrical “Two-Lane Blacktop.” While Mr. Reybaud has exemplary artistic confidence and an interesting vision, this is a movie that in many ways defines or justifies the “not for everybody” critical hedge.
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