She races cars. He pulls heists. You can’t get much more high concept than that. Flemish director Michaël Roskam (Bullhead) has never exactly been a model of restraint, but in Racer and the Jailbird he goes for broke, with a propulsive first half that culminates in a wonderfully garish act of highway robbery. More’s the bummer then that the second hour slows way down, transforming into a maudlin prison movie that largely squelches out the outrageous chemistry between the stars (Matthias Schoenaerts and Adèle Exarchopoulos). Still, while it lasts, the fun is very fun.
Racer and the Jailbird screens tonight and Sunday (May 18 and 20) at the 44th annual Seattle International Film Festival, which happens May 18-June 10. Showtimes for Racer and the Jailbird here; more recommended SIFF films here; and all SIFF films here.