When I first encoun-
tered PARIS, Cédric Klapisch's most recent movie, I arrived late (due to an MTA snarl) and missed the first 15 to 20 minutes. While this could kill certain other films, I sat through the re-
maining 110 minutes and thoroughly en-
joyed myself. When I went back to catch the first quarter hour or so at a later show-
ing, I found that nothing I'd missed proved a deal-
breaker. All this happened some 18
months ago, when the movie made its New York debut at the FSLC's annual Rendezous with French Cinema series. Seeing it a second time this past month reconfirmed my enjoyment.
Yes, the film's a little too long (at 2 hours and 8 minutes) but it offers such a starry cast, each one working at full-throttle, some marvelous views of most people's favorite city, and a crush of story lines that connect in pleasurably small ways, with humor, irony and sadness. Untimely death hovers over the film -- one perhaps expected, another definitely not -- but there's lots of joy, too. The following is an abridged version of the review I did for GreenCine in March of 2008:
In its own way, Paris is as much a love letter to the city of lights - and life - as was last year's Paris je t'aime. There are nearly as many characters here and a plethora of stories, but only a single director - though a very good one. Klapisch (shown above, who's given us Russian Dolls, Not for or Against (rent this unusual film!) and Un Air de famille) loves ensembles, and to judge from the fine performances he draws from his disparate actors, they love the chance to work with him - many of them for a second or third time.
|The stories take in a young man (Romain Duris, shown left) with a heart problem both literal and metaphoric; his sister (Juliette Binoche, shown bottom, left) and her offspring; the architect's brother (the great Fabrice Luchini, most recently seen in The Girl from Monaco), a professor of history who becomes fixated on a young student; a lonely vendor in an outdoor market (Albert Dupontel, shown bottom, right) and a uptight bakery owner (Karin Viard), among many others. Every actor is on point, but Luchini, in particular, is extraordinary. That face of his, used equally effectively for humor and pathos, mirrors so much so beautifully that he keeps you entranced. The scene (below) in which he "dances" (with the lovely Mélanie Laurent, shown at left, from the current Inglorious Basterds, who makes a fitting foil for Luchini's libido) is as funny as anything I've witnessed in some time. In addition to the characters who already reside in Paris, the film acknowledges France's African immigrants who now live -- or desperately hope to come -- there.|
hour running time, longueurs occur. But almost immediately, the bounce is back. To his credit, Klapisch is not one of those overly cute filmmakers given to tying up his loose ends. Whatever happens to these people, you are left at the finale with a strong feeling of affirmation. Not a bad way, these days, to exit a movie.