Paris Je T’Aime

Paris Je T’Aime

Film review by: Witney Seibold



            A young man goes to a print shop in
Paris with his mentor, and has an instant regard for the English-speaking stud who worls there. A young Indian woman teaches a letch about treating a woman properly. Two mimes falls in love. An older couple, with divorce pending, discuss their new lives with their respective younger new mates. A traveler meets a vampire. An engaged man is able to win back his wife-to-be with the help of Oscar Wilde’s ghost. A salesman wanders into the surreal world of a Hong Kong/Parisian hairstylists. And Steve Buscemi gets to make out with a hot young French woman, and then gets the tar beaten out of him.


            “Paris Je T’Aime” is a wistful and fascinating love letter to the amorous atmosphere of the city. It is a collection of 18 short films, each devoted to a different Parisian borough, written and directed by a collection some rather prestigious directors. Joel and Ethan Coen directed the Steve Buscemi short, Alfonso Cuarón did one with a man (Nick Nolte) reconnecting with his daughter-in-law (Ludivine Sagnier). Strangely the vampire short (featuring Elijah Wood) was not the short directed by Wes Craven, but Vincenzo Natali (“Cube”). Craven’s was the one about Oscar Wilde’s ghost (with Rufus Sewell and Emily Mortimer as the couple, and fellow director Alexander Payne as Oscar Wilde). Payne himself did a film about a lonely and overweight and middle-aged American woman learning to feel the halcyon melancholy love that
Paris seems to exude. Walter Salles (“The Motorcycle Diaries”) did the shortest film of the lot about a Spanish woman learning to care for her own infant child, and then having to bus for hours just to babysit another. Cinematographer supreme Christopher Doyle directs for only the second time in his career with that one about the
Hong Kong hairstylist, and it comes across as a surreal perfume ad. The film about the mimes was done by Sylvain Chomet (“The Triplets of Belleville”) and it’s just as fun and weird as his cartoon work. Also in the pile are Gurinder Chadha (“Bend it Like Beckham”), Gérard Depardieu, Richard LaGravanese (“Freedom Writers”), and Tom Tykwer.

             Some of the films are kind of plain, and some are out-and-out bizarre, but each one has a genuine affection for Paris, none outstays its welcome, and the project as a whole (conceived by Triastan Carné) is a fascinating exercise to see so many directing styles in one place. Like a tour given by two dozen tour guides, it’s a varied and fascinating look at a city. Each guide may have different viewpoints, but each has affection for the city. I could have done without a final coda that connects some of the stories to others, but I did like that we got a brief final glimpse of each story that we had seen to remind us of the vastness of the film and the vastness of the myriad Parisian neighborhoods.

Published in: on May 24, 2007 at 8:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

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