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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 »
Paris as the typical city of love? Or as a means of breaking down those inside of it that love.
If Dans Paris comes across as inconsistent and a little bit wavy at times, then I suppose that's a good thing because all sorts of relationships can be exactly that; particularly as they near their end. What begins as a tale looking at the final days of a relationship between a man and a woman quickly develops into a tale about family relations between two brothers, their father (who's divorced) and the other brother's attitude to relationships with other women. The film carries a very deliberately wavy atmosphere: a light hearted and jovial, if a little annoying at first, aura before taking a step back and becoming more sombre before going back to being of a surrealist and attacking nature. The film's immediate closing tone, however, is one of small scale unity one that taps into child-like innocence and brings everything back down to Earth.
Dans Paris, or 'In Paris' in English, is a film very aware of itself and where it places itself. Early on in the film, one character delivers a brief line of dialogue to the camera informing us that he is not necessarily the film's protagonist. When he does this, he is standing on the balcony of one of those typically Hollywood Parisian-set apartments that has a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower across the rest of the skyline. The intent is set up very early on, at least in regards to this particular character's actions. By identifying he is not the main character, he is disregarding his physical antics from the text as unimportant or not 'as' important as certain other characters'. But his substantial placement within the text is vital, as he and his entire ideation about the treatment of women is told in parallel with his brother's actions following his deeply unsettling break up.
Christophe Honoré's film tells the story of one man named Paul (Duris) going through a routine break up with a woman named Anna (Preiss); a failure to connect with her and her son Loup (Rambert-Preiss). But the director opts out of going down a specific tone via route of depression and sadness for the overall piece. Jonathan (Garrel) offers relief from what is, essentially, the primary focus, only not evidently so and his actions on a separate equilibrium offer the idea that everyone else's life goes on despite what's happening back at home involving loved one's and their problems. In this sense, the film might remind you of Nancy Myers' 2006 film The Holiday in its study of two people (women, in that film's case) at two different points in their lives regarding relationships. Only In Paris has a more affectionate study and its leads are slightly more tolerable.
Paul's actions very early on reflect uncertainty and are of a sporadic nature. He goes from seemingly suicidal when he takes a photograph of himself with many pills in his mouth to rather upbeat when he shares a joke with his brother and then back to being very angry again, all with in a small space of time. Rather than act as a distorted and inconsistent tone when studying the respective situation, I think the film is getting across the shock to the system following the break up and the sporadic, uncertain mindset the individual might find themselves facing as they come to terms with what's happened.
The film, I think, manages to just about balance its upbeat and surrealist scenes. The film will either revolve around Jon's goings on whilst on his way to the shops and the mis-adventures he gets involved in with other women; with the claustrophobic and darkly lit scenes of Paul and his father sharing a space inside, both left to stew over the fact that both of them have lost their female partners at some point in their lives. Brothers Jon and Paul act as binary opposites to one another: whilst one is cheeky, upbeat and enthusiastic and possesses the power speak to us; the other remains very much the opposite: serious and downbeat, even during the few scenes we see Paul early on with Anna, his partner. Writer/director Honoré delivers a look at how two different men act towards women and the prospect of loving women with Paul himself admitting he over evaluates things and situations with women, while Jonathan seems to jump from relationship to relationship without much in the way of problems or thought.
Honoré peppers the film with a variety of clocks or timepieces. There is also an emphasis throughout the film on time, perhaps alluding to the passing of time these characters require. What was refreshing was that the film realises that Paul's situation is far more interesting, overall, than Jon's and focuses on him more towards the end. Dans Paris is an odd experience, punctuated by 'funny' antics of one man and the downbeat antics of another. But overall, as a simultaneous study of colloquial romance and the aftermath of broken down romance, it works quite well.
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