In the middle of a July heat wave, a group of French tourists arrives in Los Angeles to tour “The American West in Cinemascope”, as the agency’s brochure enticingly puts it: a dream holiday in an air-conditioned bus and luxury hotels, taking in Hollywood, Las Vegas, the National Parks, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon. Imagine what happens when the agency goes bankrupt, abandoning the tourists with no one to help them except a young, resourceful but hopelessly inexperienced guide.
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Prime material for a comedy of manners in the spirit of the times. Nearly thirty years ago, the Club Med was the ‘in’ place for vacations and inspired such movies as the ‘Les Bronzés’ series. In these times of recession, a whim of the stock market can turn a happy vacation in cowboy country into a mortifying traipse through hell. Jean-Paul Salomé (here making his second film after ‘Girls With Guns’) mines his material astutely, extracting not only laughter, emotion and anger but also a certain queasiness. ‘Tourist Trap’ is a real success, a film you have to see. The talent of the writing and dialogue is complemented to perfection by a lively cast of well-judged caricatures. The performances of Bernard Le Coq, Judith Henry, Emma de Caunes, Samuel Le Bihan, Claire Nadeau and Bruno Lochet are all collectors’ items and deserve a round of applause for the authenticity, tenderness, ruthlessness or emotion they impart. ‘Tourist Trap’ is a smart, hard-nosed, rib-tickling box of tricks that shuns clichés and slices through human weaknesses like butter. Don’t laugh: everything you will see could have happened to you. (Michel Pascal in “Le Point”, September 4th, 1998)