Paris Je t’aime is a collection of short films by numerous directors which aim to capture the essence of the French capital of love. Shorter than short films, actually; (they should coin a term for this) the overall product is a mixed bag, which mostly appeals to the emotion of love which the city is most notable for. Featuring an all star directing ensemble, from the Coen brothers to Good Will Hunting’s Gus Van Sant to even the director of Harry Potter Alfonso Cuaron; though somewhat contrived, it is almost hard to find this film unlikable. I will now ramble on the segments which I found most appealing.
There are many things that can be said about this film due to the fact that it employs a wide range of styles. For instance, I especially liked the Coen brother’s dreamy segment, “Tuileries”. It features a tourist in the underground trains of France who broke the cardinal rule of not engaging in eye contact. It resulted to an amusingly pitiful exchange between his spineless character and the enraged and jealous lover. I found it hilarious how his handbook contained the direct translations of what was being said. I appreciated how it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and how it is almost similar to the quirky style of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ‘Amelie’, a personal favorite. (In addition to this, it featured Steve Buscemi! Tony Blundetto!)
Another segment which I liked was the irony embedded in Alexander Payne’s, “14e arrondissement”. It shows a somewhat pathetic American tourist lost and lonely in the city of love. It is laughable how she spoils her experience of France; for instance she asks for the nearest Asian restaurant instead of partaking in the local cuisine. Alexander Payne is yet another personal favourite of mine; I especially liked his direction of “About Schmidt”, and how he portrayed the various emotions attached to growing old and alone. In my opinion he is quite skilled in providing an aura of isolation with his works.
The simple manipulation of film elements was what I appreciated in Brazilian writer-directors Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas’ ‘Loin du 16e’. The plot was simple; a daycare worker taking care of two separate babies; first her own, then elsewhere to tend to the baby of her rich employer. The premise seemed simple enough at first, with perhaps only a few moments of reflection at the thought of such a situation. However, when the simple matter of depth of field was discussed in class and how the camera focused out of the stranger-baby’s face to show disinterest, led me into appreciating the simple nuances of film and its inner workings.
I didn’t really appreciate Elijah Wood and his segment ‘Quartier de la Madeleine’. Vampire love story, okay, but I think that it doesn’t fit well cohesively with the overall theme of the movie. A welcome change from all the seriousness, perhaps, but I for one don’t like it. I also stand by my conviction that Elijah Wood does not look like an actor.
With that being said, Paris Je t’aime is a easygoing in terms of mood, a good tribute to the French capital of love, and an otherwise light ending for what has been a terrific semester of film appreciation.