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  Paris, je t'aime

Starring: Over 50 equally-billed actors.

Directed by: Over 20 equally-billed directors.
Produced by: Emmanuel Benbihy, Claudie Ossard
Written by: Over 20 equally-billed writers.

Distributor: First Look Pictures


     Paris, je t’aime, a collection of eighteen short-films all set in the city of Paris, is a movie that sort of defies criticism. Because the film was written and directed by over twenty individuals, it would be fruitless of me to make generalized judgments about the whole picture. Still, Paris, je t’aime exists as a singular work for a reason: each short intertwines with its counterparts to create a unified work that is effective and thematically whole. Because of this, it would be equally unfair of me to critique each segment of the film. Due to the inherent critical paradox at hand, I have chosen simply to forgo writing a formal review of Paris, je t’aime. Instead, I will simply share a few of my favorite features of the movie—the very reasons it should be cherished:

-The cross-cultural sensuality found in the witty dialogue of Gurinder Chadha’s “Quais de Seine,” which functions beautifully as a modern representation of traditional impulses as they relate both to religion and love.

-The Coen Brothers’ return to the very wide-eyed shots of Steve Bucemi that made them the famous filmmakers they are today.

-The running-sequence in Gus Van Sant’s “Le Marais,” which beautifully evokes the visions of Truffaut and Bertolucci, even if the rest of the short isn’t very good.

-Catalina Sandino Moreno’s brilliant face-work in Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas’ "Loin du 16ème”, which provides the segment an emotionally intimate core that transcends into a stunning social commentary by the segment’s conclusion.

-Sylvain Chomet’s ability to turn what begins as a silly story about an irritating mime into a significant tale about discovering one’s identity in the world.

-The profoundly effective use of hyperkinetic editing in Tom Tykwer’s "Faubourg Saint-Denis", which leads me to believe the filmmaker’s wacky style may one day amount to something. That and the fact that Natalie Portman just keeps getting hotter every time she appears on a movie screen.

-Alexander Payne’s embrace of the existentialist themes of the French New Wave through his little piece, a hilarious juxtaposition of the plainness of American Midwestern society and the freeness of contemporary French society.

-The guts it took for Vincenzo Natali to not only slap a short-film about vampires into the middle of this sophisticated project, but rather a super-stylized dark comedy about vampires. Starring a devious Elijah Wood, the segment is brilliant in all kinds of ways.

-Willem Dafoe’s appearance as a cowboy in Nobuhiro Suwa’s “Place de Victoires”. Period.

-Maggie Gyllenhaal’s daring turn as an actress who seeks solace in hashish in Olivier Assayas’ “Quartier des Enfants Rouges”.

-The human irony of Isabelle Coixett’s “Bastille”, which follows the inner-turmoil of a man as he becomes obsessed with his once-distant, now-terminally-ill wife to try to compensate for the ignorance he showed her in the past.

-The stunning compression of time in Oliver Schmitz’ “Place des fêtes,” which allows the viewer to care more about two characters in five minutes than many films are able to in two hours.

     No offense intended to the five shorts in the movie I left off this list. Not a single piece of Paris je t’aime is terribly weak; I just, for whatever reason, found myself less affected by about a quarter of the segments than I was by the rest. One things for sure, though: as a unified whole, this is one of my favorite pictures of the year.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 8.26.2008

Screened on: 8.25.2008 at the La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas, CA.


Paris je t'aime is rated R and runs 120 minutes.

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