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The familiar conflicts of a film director planning to make a movie about his life and the confrontation he has with his wife, an actress who was turned down for such project in which she wanted to play herself.
Anna has just left Paul who, annihilated by the separation, moves back with his father in Paris. His younger brother Jonathan, a casual student, still lives in his father's apartment and spends most of his time womanizing and fooling around. But what this apparent lightness conceals is a deep wound. Jonathan, in fact, has never been able to overcome the death of his beloved sister. Meanwhile Paul sinks into depression... Written by
In one scene of the film, where Jonathan walks in front of the cinema, two movie posters are shown. One is for A History of Violence (2005), a film which was also released in cinemas in France via the same distributor as this film. The other is for Last Days (2005) starring Michael Pitt, who co-starred with Louis Garrel in The Dreamers (2003). See more »
After the turn-off of his previous Ma Mère and the gloomy intensity of previous films, Christophe Honoré has produced a fourth feature that's economical and entertaining, a remarkable balance of moods that (as before) studies parental and sibling relationships, this time with elegant dialogue and amusing contrasts of scenes and characters and an evocation of the French New Wave that gives two of France's best and hottest young male film actors a chance for virtuoso performances.
Dark and light come in the form of the two brothers these actors play. One, Paul (Romain Duris), has broken up with his girlfriend (Joana Preiss) and, depressed after a series of disastrous scenes which we observe early on in back-and-forth jump-cut sequences that are intentionally confused in chronology, goes back to live with his caring father.
Though Paul's younger brother Jonathan (Louis Garrel), who's never left the paternal nest, tells us speaking into the camera in an early shot (which establishes the light and detached side of the film), that he's the narrator but only a lesser character in the story, he emerges also as an essential foil to Paul because of his success with the ladies and his larky attitude. He's as frolicsome as his brother is worrisomely dark-spirited and hopeless.
When not reading La Repubblica and watching Italian TV, Papà Mirko (Guy Marchand) does domestic things like make chicken soup and drag home a big Christmas tree he decorates alone.
Jonathan makes it with three girls in one day while trying to lure Paul shopping for presents at Monoprix. Dad summons his estranged wife and the boy's mother (Marie-France Pisier, of Jacques Rivette's 1974 Céline and Julie Go Boating, which this film evokes) to cheer up Paul too. And she succeeds: Paul's depression isn't seen one-dimensionally. Dad is amusingly cuddly, while Garrel's high spirits constantly contrast with Duris' glumness and relative inertia. But that inertia also has its sudden interruptions: he goes out early in the morning and jumps into the Seine, then returns wet and surprised at what he's done -- and at still being alive. Jonathan/Garrel is also clearly the Jean-Pierre Léaud of our days, and a bedroom shot links him with Godard's Belmondo. (Garrel is well-suited as a reborn Sixties icon after starring in his father Philippe's great 2005 evocation of '68, Regular Lovers as well as the earlier Bertolucci '68 piece The Dreamers, and his looks match the dash of Belmondo with the polish of Léaud. Duris has already shown his mercurial potential in a string of romantic comedies and his starring role in Jacques Audiard's dark, brilliant 2005 crime/art film, The Beat My Heart Skipped.
There's a lot of formally written and frenetically spoken French dialogue; Garrel is a master of the pout, snicker, and slurred one-liner; Duris emerges as the actor with more depth, while Garrel shows a new light, comedic side we haven't seen much of before. Marchand is appealing, and the movie has energy. Inrockuptibles, the influential and hip French review, calls this "The best French film of the year." Dans Paris is an actors', writer's, editor's tour de force that creates its own unique tragi-comic mood.
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