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Anne Lise Maulin
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João Miller Guerra,
Bitori Nha Bibinha,
What a disappointment. As a lover of Paris, I was looking forward to see what I thought was going to be an artistic look at Parisian architecture as viewed by a fascinating long-time resident of a classic apartment in the city's core. My heart sank as the film began with the director's lament about going to a place where something really very terrible and horrible had happened to her years earlier. Great. Another film about a filmmaker making a film about themselves making a film. Please! If you aren't Michael Moore or the late great Agnès Varda don't attempt this style. Stay behind the camera. Unfortunately, Juliane Sellam, the subject of the film, is not any more interesting. A shallow individual obsessed with her looks (we first see her having a manicure), Sellam has nothing interesting to say about her vocation, her apartment building (the purported subject of the documentary) or even her city. Perhaps that's why Bohdanowicz chose to profile her; Sellam almost makes the filmmaker seem appealing. But not quite. Even when Bohdanowicz takes us to the scene of the oblique crime (or whatever trauma it was) she frustrates the audience with her refusal to detail what exactly happened. While I have sympathy, I am unable to understand why the filmmaker even mentions her past experience if she's not going to expand on the event. It serves only to confound the viewer and has no connection to the film's topic, such as it is. Similarly, a tearful tale about a disappointing éclair is frustrating, almost wrath-inducing. You're in Paris eating a pastry for goodness sake and all you can do is complain?
To be fair, a some of the film look lovely, like when she is out exploring the city, but this doesn't happen often enough to save the film from either of these annoying people. There are far too few of these shots, or of what the title promises, maisons and bonheur. I was left feeling like the victim of a weird, hedonistic and confusing hoax. Please Ms. Bohdanowicz, don't use documentary film as your therapist. Save your mysterious angst for your Twitter feed. Actually don't. Stay away from story-telling altogether.
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