Anne Goupil is a literature student in Paris in 1957. Her elder brother, Pierre, takes her to a friend's party where the guests include Philip Kaufman, an expatriate American escaping ...
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Elizabeth sends telegrams to her old boyfriend Ben in NYC and to her younger sister Leo in Rome to join her in Paris, where she is selling her dead father's estate. When Ben and Leo arrive, a mysterious adventure begins.
Anne Goupil is a literature student in Paris in 1957. Her elder brother, Pierre, takes her to a friend's party where the guests include Philip Kaufman, an expatriate American escaping McCarthyism, and Gerard Lenz, a theatre director who arrives with the mysterious woman Terry. The talk at the party is about the apparent suicide of their friend Juan, a Spanish activist who had recently broken up with Terry. Philip warns Anne that the forces that killed Juan will soon do the same to Gerard. Gerard is trying to rehearse Shakespeare's "Pericles", although he has no financial backing. Anne takes a part in the play to help Gerard, and to try to discover why Juan died.Written by
Surprising blend of New Wave and classical literature
I suppose that's a bit of an oxymoron: to blend New Wave and classical literature. After all, New Wave is the cinematic movement that prided itself with trashing the standard literary formula. I equate New Wave to free-form jazz which trashed the standard classical music structure in favour of expression & improv.
Well I'm not a big fan of New Wave (or free-form jazz), so it was rather begrudgingly that I watched this film. Surely enough, it begain in a sort of expressionistic delirium, prompting me to say, "oh great. here we go again. haiku anyone?" But suddenly it reins in, and a very lucid story materializes out of the haze. I was pleasantly surprised. There are many compelling allusions--if not outright parallels--with the classic play "Pericles, Prince of Tyre" as well as Molière and Goethe. This means that the film adopts a certain bit of structure, which is highly unusual for New Wave. I found it very refreshing. With philosophical overtones of Sartre and Camus as well, it's by far the most head-scratching, beard-stroking New Wave film I've seen, and it's not just existentialistic babble either (although there is a hefty share of existentialism).
Its biggest flaw, however, is that it seems to attacks too many themes at once, and in so doing, it dilutes the power it could have had. There's only so much that can be packed into a film, even if it is 140 mins. As a few other reviewers have pointed out, the ideas presented are truncated. Mere fragments. The director intended this, as we see in a dialogue where two characters discuss how the play Pericles is a very fragmented tale which comes together only at the end. HOWEVER, in the case of "Paris nous appartient", it doesn't seem to come together. Whether this was deliberate irony on the director's part or whether it was just poor execution, I can't say. But either way it left me unfulfilled.
It is possible that I missed something. Perhaps I should see it a 2nd time, but unfortunately it falls just shy of the good-enough-to-see-a-2nd-time mark. I did enjoy it, and I'm glad I watched it, but I probably wouldn't care to see it again.
If you see this movie and agree with what I've written, then I think you'll enjoy the film "Orphée" (1950).
Oh, and just a word about the music in this film (since I've already made the analogy of jazz), it's... well... wacky. It's really the equivalent of jazz improv except with symphonic instruments. At times it fits the absurdity of the moment perfectly. But at other times, especially during the dialogue, it can be a bit distracting. I kept wondering to myself how much better it would have been with just a single brooding piano instead of the experimental orchestra noises. But music is entirely a personal taste, so you may enjoy it.
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