The simplest answer is not always the right one. That’s the philosophy within En roue libre or Freestyle, where at least one character makes assumptions about another. That character, Paul (Benjamin Voisin), steals what he thinks is an empty vehicle but as it turns out, occupying it is the owner of the car, Louise (Marina Fois). She can’t leave her car, and he assumes that she lives in the car.
The real reason Louise can’t leave her car is because of what looks like a sudden and special case of agoraphobia. Paul needs the car for other reasons that just stealing it, and instead of stealing another car, he has to deal with Louise’s condition. Both have to do this while avoiding cops. Freestyle, to mix things up, also adds minor characters to the mix like a hitchhiker who has electro sensitivity and a shrink.
This seems like a wacky comedy on paper, the kind that comes from a French boomer who relies on archetypes. To be fair, director and co-writer Didier Barcelo is a Gen X-er, but this is first feature film and it feels like a breath of fresh air. There also seems like a collaborative spirit between him and his actors. The actors, in part, excellently meet up to the physical demands of their roles. Fois and Voisin are equals in this regard.
Barcelo’s screenplay is also aces because of how he can highlight character motivation, some of those coming out in layers. Even the most ‘superficial’ character, Paul, has his own layers to him even if he’s a ‘no filter’ kind of guy. Each character breaks up the other’s occasional bubbles but these seemingly different parts fit a coherent whole. This is a film that treats its characters as humans, a comedy with emotional intelligence.