Hartley shoots almost every corner of Paris that Fay traverses at a canted angle, as if he thinks that’s what makes a spy movie. The surprise is: it works, so maybe he’s onto something! The camera angles and gray color scheme, combined with an effective (but in some places strangely inappropriate and intrusive) score really play up the mysterious, Ludlumesque feel to the world. Fay’s wardrobe also adds to the spy mystique; her sexy black coat (a gift from Angus) looks like it could have come from Emma Peel’s closet. But Hartley chokes when it comes to shooting action. In fact, he doesn’t shoot it. Instead, he creates a digital strobe effect, presenting the various shootouts Fay finds herself in the middle of as a series of rapidly changing still images. I suppose this is meant to represent how Fay sees the action herself, unable to fully process it, unable to believe that she’s actually experiencing it. But unfortunately it has the opposite effect, and instead of putting the audience in Fay’s place, it momentarily takes us out of the movie, calling attention to the fact that it is a movie and to the digital video it’s shot on.
Still, when the gunfire dies down and the strobing stops, Hartley continues to effectively build suspense while maintaining the intrinsic humor of the incredible situation this woman finds herself in. Both are aided immensely by the fact that Posey crafts such a believable, realistic and likable main character, so despite the occasional showstopping camera effect, we do relate to her and empathize with her. The director also pulls off one very Hitchcockian setpiece in which Fay, in her iconic black coat, scrambles across the rooftops of Paris to evade the various secret services that are chasing her. As soon as any shooting starts, of course, we go to still frames.
Her Parisian adventure not only terrifies Fay; it also invigorates her. A character who started out so passive that she locked herself in the bathroom for a long, hot bath rather than dealing with her troubles (an expelled child, would-be suitors) finds the passion required to elude all the world’s spy agencies and slip away to Istanbul on a fake passport with Bebe in tow. Fay’s discovered that they’re in love with the same man (even if Fay herself won’t admit she still loves Henry), and she seems as much driven to protect Bebe as to find Henry, who Fay’s come to believe is still alive, no matter what Fulbright told her. Unfortunately, Fay’s little sojourn to the Bosporus gets her labeled a traitor by the CIA, and soon Fulbright himself is on her trail as well as everyone else.