What a treat to enjoy the classic French beauty, Catherine Deneuve, aging comfortably in the romantic comedy, “On My Way.” Directed by Emmanuelle Bercot, “On My Way” arrives at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center on Friday, May 9.
The movie’s plot is a slender, rambling thread, but the real pleasure comes from watching the accomplished, if now slightly paunchy, Ms. Deneuve show off her acting chops. As 60-ish Bettie, she runs the family restaurant in Brittany. When her mother Annie (Claude Gensoc) informs Bettie she’s been dumped by her married lover, Bettie goes on the lam in her Mercedes station wagon, under the pretext that she needs a cigarette. Cigarettes continue to function in “On My Way” as the forbidden indulgence of the frustrated central character.
One vignette follows the next. Because it’s Sunday, all the usual cigarette emporiums are closed, but Bettie corrals an arthritic elderly man willing to roll a butt for her. As she waits interminably for the old guy to produce a cancer stick for her, she gets an introduction to what lies ahead as she ages.
Hunting for her next nicotine fix, Bettie lands at le Ranch, a bar where a much younger Marco (Paul Hamy) picks her up and beds her. “You must have been stunning,” he tells her without much tact. Indeed, she lets him know she is the former Miss Brittany.
The meandering plot of “On my Way” gains welcome momentum when Bettie’s estranged daughter Muriel (the singer Camille), enlists her mother to deliver Charly (Nemo Schiffman), Bettie’s grandson, to his paternal grandfather, an irascible type who lives in the country. Eleven-year-old Charly is a wiseguy and an imp who bonds with his grandmother, persuading her to show up for a reunion of all the beauty queens she competed with long ago. Plenty of pratfalls pop up along the way to a family reunion of sorts that wraps up Bettie’s road trip with a satisfyingly sentimental conclusion.
The Film Center will also host several special events this weekend, including an advance screening of “Belle,” based on the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate, bi-racial daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay. This event is free for Martha’s Vineyard Film Society members. In a second special event, the Film Center holds a free reception for the Vineyard Conservation Student Art Show, followed by a screening of the Oscar-winning documentary short, “Inocente.”
“On My Way,” Friday, May 9, and Saturday, May 10, 7:30 pm; Sunday, May 11, 4 pm, M.V. Film Center, Vineyard Haven. $12; $9 M.V. Film Society members; $7 ages 14 and under. For more information and tickets, visit mvfilmsociety.com.