Paris, je t'aime is about the plurality of cinema in one mythic location: Paris, the City of Love. Twenty filmmakers have five minutes each; the audience must weave a single narrative out of twenty moments. The 20 moments are fused by transitional interstitial sequences and also via the introduction and epilogue. Each transition begins with the last shot of the previous film and ends with the first shot of the following film, extending the enchantment and the emotion of the previous segment, preparing the audience for a surprise, and providing a cohesive atmosphere. There's a reappearing mysterious character who is a witness to the Parisian life. A common theme of Paris and love fuses all.Written by
Julio Medem was attached to the project for a long time. He was supposed to direct one of the segments, but he finally fell off because of schedule conflicts with the filming of Chaotic Ana (2007). See more »
In the segment 'Père-Lachaise,' when William (Rufus Sewell) confronts Frances (Emily Mortimer), his coat is buttoned to the neck. The camera cuts to Frances, and back to William, his coat now open. The next time William appears, his coat is buttoned-up again. William (apparently) hasn't moved at all. See more »
They say a lot of things about Paris. They say it's a place where artists find inspiration. They say it's a place where people come to discover something new about their lives. They say it's a place where you can find love.
Of course, at my age, I didn't expect any of that.
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Sadly, this is an awful grab bag of mostly trivial stories. Certainly it is ambitious and interesting as a concept, and Paris looks beautiful, but the producers didn't rein in the directors and what appears winning in theory becomes a lazy mishmash in execution. Each director was given five minutes of screen time and two days to shoot their film. Almost all of the directors figured they could dispense with writers and do it themselves. A bit of ego, a bit of film school, and a misunderstanding that even five minutes of screen time requires a writer's hand, especially so since the short time frame demands concise story telling skills.
Indeed, some of these film makers, e.g. Christopher Doyle, have barely sat in a director's chair, much less be worth trumpeting as members of an extraordinary group of visionaries. And the concept involves love stories and the love for Paris. What connection is there with this concept and the filmography of Joel and Ethan Coen? In fact the heavy American and British presence seems more mercenary than visionary from the producing end of things. Ben Gazzara and Gena Rowlands playing two Americans finalizing their divorce in a restaurant could have been filmed in New York or Chicago and shipped over to France for attachment to the movie. Worse, this episode relegates a giant of French cinema, Gerard Depardieu, to the minuscule part of the restaurant owner. There's nothing wrong with having some stories about tourists and expatriates, but this collection relies far too much on it. The bulk of the Parisians in this film are relegated to background chatter and bit parts. Surprisingly, even the city is relegated to background fodder. It appears that almost none of the film makers have any sense of Paris, or what to do with it given the opportunity to make a small film there. Many take place in nondescript indoor locations, or in the case of the Elijah Wood episode, a meaningless dark street straight out of 'Sin City.' Story wise, this is a director's film. Therefore the writing is weak and in some cases almost non-existent. In the case of Cuaron's episode with Nick Nolte, even the direction is non-existent (almost entirely a long shot track of Nolte yakking away to his nubile daughter as they walk down a street -- once again, a heavy American element with no trace of Paris except some dialogue). Some of the vignettes have "punchlines", while others merely fade away or end pointless and lost. The two most "commercial" feature Steve Buscemi in a cartoonish skit in a Metro station, and an absurd tryst between Elijah Wood and a vampiress. Both stand out but for the wrong reasons. Buscemi is forced to say nothing throughout his episode, and to behave like a punching bag for no reason. At least it IS snappily directed, and makes its point and ends with an exclamation. But it's also more clichéd American-in-Paris tourism. The Wood vampiress story not only doesn't belong in this film, it is also extremely predictable as a vampire sketch.
Many of the other stories seem either a small part of a bigger film, or a made-up hodgepodge to fill five minutes. To each his own as to the merits of the results. Certainly this smörgåsbord provides enough promise in its theme to delight those who think they're getting a taste of Paris along with humanistic stories (rather than the usual gangster, spy, or sleaze films using the city for its location). But I think the producers should have demanded that the directors adhere to the concept rather than allow them free rein to indulge in half-thought out skits that have only an arbitrary connection to the locations of the title city.
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