With the exception of few outrageous ones, Paris Je T’Aime feature stories that are realistic – a mother’s love for his child, language barrier, cultural differences, a couple getting married and another couple getting out of married, etc. Aside from Paris, as the backdrop and setting, and the last scene where characters from different segments get together, there is no continuity or connection between the stories.This is the basically the reason why I enjoy watching the film. The 18 stories are told separately in the most simple, unique and imaginative way that one cannot be compared from the other. I honestly don’t remember all of the segments but I remember feeling differently seeing one after another; smiling, frowning, go ‘awww…’, and getting confused.
The film takes us to the other side of Paris. It is neither the city loved for its Eiffel Tower, scenery and shops nor the stench-filled, poverty-stricken areas described in Les Miserables. It is the people and their experiences: those of the young and old, the French and tourists, etc. Amid all the glitter are familiar scenes of ordinary people living ordinary lives. Having said that, the story about the middle-aged American lady, who has dreamed of visiting Paris, is to me the most memorable segment in Paris Je T’Aime. It is composed mostly of narration (in French) or the lady walking about, but its sheer simplicity makes it more appealing. Can a person find happiness in solitude? I suppose not. In the lady’s case, spending her time alone does not make her totally miserable because Paris itself provides the companion she needs.
What I like about short films is that, given the restrictions and limitations, they still manage to send the message across. They can tell compelling stories. They can tell complete stories, we won’t feel the filmmakers are rushing things. I have forgotten almost half of the 18 segments, but those I have not, I remember quite clearly. In details. It lingers.
Seeing how the first two segments proceed, I begin to worry that the next 16 would follow the same path. I like those two and I also like watching romantic flicks during my idle time but 18 love stories in one straight viewing are rather exhausting. When I realize how completely different the stories are, I begin to appreciate the movie more. I love how Francine’s and Thomas’ relationship defies the odds (his blindness) but occasionally failing to communicate well. I love that Frances, who possesses some of the most annoying characteristics of women, and William, who lacks humor, get together. A father’s intimate conversation with his daughter along the dimly-lit streets of Paris is rather unusual, but it shows how dynamic a parent-child relationship can be.
Paris Je T’Aime is a roller-coaster ride. The subtle, quieter parts complement the heavy sequences; the crests complementing the troughs. The film tackles love in painful ways, and leaves me emotional, almost fighting back tears. Sometimes it leaves me with the same expression of confusion as the man in the train station. Lastly, it makes fun of love in a good way, injecting humor and making it sound as outrageous as two vampires feeding off each other’s necks.