Thursday, November 26, 2009

Paris (Rhoades)

The People of “Paris” Deserve a Nice Toast
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Sacré bleu! I’ve seen so many movies about Paris lately – “Paris, je t’aime,” “Paris 36” and the singularly titled “Paris” – that I feel a need for a return visit to the City of Lights.

“Paris” is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.

The film’s multidimensional storyline is held together by Pierre (Romain Duras), a dancer whose health has taken a turn for the worse. Awaiting a heart transplant, he’s confined to his Parisian apartment, forced to look out on the city (or more precisely, its inhabitants) from afar.

To complicate matters, his divorced sister Elise (Juliette Binoche) and her three kids have moved in to help look after him.

“Paris” is like a Gaelic game of Connect the Dots. Looking down from his balcony, Pierre spies a neighbor putting out the garbage, then going off to mail a letter to his brother in Cameroon, a baker who wants to come to Paris. The neighbor is a client of Pierre’s sister Elise who is a social worker. And Elise is trying to check out a student across the way who might make a good girlfriend for Pierre.

Mix-em-and-match-em: Academic Roland is attracted to the student himself. And is envious of his “normal” brother Philippe. But Philippe is having secret nightmares about his big architectural project. Meanwhile a motorcycle-riding vegetable market vendor named Jean is becoming attracted to Elise.

Before you know it, we’ve got a large all-but-unwieldy cast of characters, each with their own problems, loves, and messy lives.

Written and directed by Cedric Klapisch (“Un air de famallie”), it’s a tribute to our neighbor’s humanity.

Klapisch attended film school at New York University. And has served as a master teacher of film at the Columbia University, the City College of New York, and the School of Visual Arts. Not surprising he lists such New York centric directors as Marin Scorsese, Woody Allen, and John Cassavetes as his favorites.

But when it comes to filmmaking, this Frenchman’s love poem is to the city of his birthright, Paris.

And to those people who inhabit it – architects and social workers and historians and market clerks and ailing dancers. You’ll feel like toasting them after the movie with a nice glass of French chardonnay.
[from Solares Hill]

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