Marking an early role for the luminous Kristin Scott Thomas, writer/director Eric Rochant’s Autobus is a hard-to-find gem of teenage angst; I’ve literally scoured the internet for anything I can show you about this film and come up with less than zip. It’s currently standing on zero critical reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and the only review on imdb is mine, the still above came from a German tv listings magazine, and there’s not even a trailer on Youtube or Daily Motion. Is 1991 so far away?
Anyway, sinking into oblivion wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for Autobus, also known as Aux Yeux du Monde, wasn’t such a good film, but right now it’s less underrated than not rated at all. Yvan Attal plays French schoolboy Bruno, whose girlfriend (Charlotte Gainsbourg) doesn’t believe he really loves her. In order to get to her in Spain, Bruno decides to hijack a school-bus with 22 kids on board, as well as a unwilling teacher (Scott-Thomas).
Bruno’s lack of understanding of action and consequence is clearly naïve, but there’s also a degree of sympathy possible for his anti-social actions, and Autobus develops less like a thriller than a spry commentary of the foolishness of youth, with Bruno snapped out of his romantic intensity by his growing relationships with the bus’s occupants.You can catch a couple of minutes of the action in the clip below, sorry for the lack of subtitles.
Somewhere between Dog Day Afternoon and Speed, Rochant’s Autobus is a rarity, a siege drama with compassion and humanity instead of shoot-outs and action. Back in 2004, I nipped down to Knightbridge to interview Scott Thomas over tea and scones in a Bayswater hotel room while she was promoting a fantasy blockbuster, and the conversation turned back making to this excellent film. She had fond memories of it, and so did I; in the digital age, why do great films like this get so neglected?