"Paris Je T’aime"deals with different forms of love, not just ;Romantic Love

<i>Paris, Je T’aime (Paris, I Love You)</i> is a memorable film, unique and fast paced. A collaboration of 20 world-renowned directors; the film consists of 18 short films all which embody the idea of love. There is an apparent visual and plot contrast within every short film, the genres range from whimsical, comical, tragic and dramatic. Although most of the cinematic vignettes are interesting and captivating there are also those that are somewhat ordinary and ineffective. The most successful pieces are those that remain untainted by the romanticized ideas of Paris; in other words sometimes less is more. There is three that I can easily say were my favorite.
“14 eme Arrondissement” directed by Alexander Payne was the last vignette in the film and perhaps the most memorable. The film is narrated by an American overweight woman; Carol (Margo Martindale) from Colorado who is on her dream vacation in Paris. This is the vacation she had been hoping for her entire life and although it wasn’t what she idealized she somehow fills satisfied. As the plotline progresses she narrates her week in Paris and as she sits eating alone at a Chinese restaurant such thoughts come to mind; “They say Paris is a place where people come to discover something new about their lives… find love… of course at my age I didn’t expect any of that”. Alexander Payne humanizes this character by giving her different levels of imperfection such as her inability to speak French perfectly, her flawed appearance and the obvious fact that she is alone in Paris. At times she is almost poetic and gives the viewers her insights on people, life and self fulfillment. As she sits alone on a park bench eating a sandwich she says that a feeling came over her; she felt sad and happy at the same time, it was a feeling that she had been waiting her or perhaps forgotten but she says that it was then when she fell in love with Paris and Paris fell in love with her. It is the perfect depiction of solitude vs. loneliness.
My other favorite vignette was “Faubourg Saint-Denis” directed by Tom Tikwer which consisted of the love story of a blind young man Thomas (Melchior Beslon) and a struggling actress Francine (Natalie Portman). Thomas narrates his own story, how he met Francine; fell in love with her and how it all fell apart. The vignette ends with a breakup phone call from Francine she tells Thomas; “There are times when life calls out for a change. A transition. Like the seasons. Our spring was wonderful, but summer is over now and we missed out on autumn. And now all of a sudden, it’s cold, so cold that everything is freezing over. Our love fell asleep, and the snow took it by surprise. But if you fall asleep in the snow, you don’t feel death coming. Take care”. A memorable quote somewhat tragic but at the same time beautiful. Tom Tikwer makes this short fast paced and it seems as though it is almost over before it begins, somewhat like the love situation of the two characters. There is some repetition in the short, phrases are reiterated and unsympathetic emotions are exchange all tying up the whole frustration of the circumstances. Natalie Portman (Francine) and Melchior Beslon( Thomas) compliment each other in a sense that they both seem innocent and somewhat childlike there is the sense of “young love” the kind of love that is true and unforgettable.
Another memorable vignette was “Loin du 16eme”by Walter Salles. This is the narration of the life of Ana (Catalina Sandino Moreno, also seen in Maria full of Grace) and it is perhaps one of the few that depicts the lower class society in Paris. Ana is a young immigrant and a mother who is forced to leave her baby in a day care facility in order to make a long commute to another city in Paris where she works as a nanny. The same song that she sings to her crying baby is the song she uses to calm the cries of someone else’s baby. As she sings it we can se the devastation that comes over her as she does not have the comfort of staying home with her own baby. It has an unexpected conclusion and it almost makes you disappointed for not being able to figure out exactly what happened. The film is somewhat reminiscent of Love Actually which was directed by Richard Curtis, but Paris Je T’aime is exceptionally different in that it deals with different forms of love and not just primarily romantic love. The various vignettes dynamically intertwine without developing into regurgitated anecdotes of love thus making the film enjoyable and distinctive.

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Weak: 1 Star   Average: 2 Stars   Good: 3 Stars   Very Good: 4 Stars   Excellent: 5 Stars


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