So, unbeknownst to me, the Spectator published another film review of mine. For those who didn't know, I got to interview Juliette Binoche and Cedric Klapisch two weeks ago. It was a thrilling and frightening experience, and I can't wait for my next round-table interview. Although the stress of grad school applications might make the whole extracurricular business a tad more... difficult...
Also this title kind of stinks.
There are also a lot of things I could say about the film that I wasn't allowed to portray in the article. For example, it is VERY misogynistic, but this is only through an uber-liberal American perspective. Klapisch and Binoche did not see this aspect whatsoever. Also the last scene is ambiguous and actually kind of disturbing, and it probably was not meant to be... but of course I will leave you all to form your own opinions. On a scale of 1 to 100 I'd probably hover in the lower 70s, just because the cinematography was so outstanding (what else would you expect from the director of L'Auberge Espagnole?). I was nonetheless very affected by this movie, and its themes stuck with me for days, and days, and days... thus, I suppose, making the film successful, aesthetically-speaking. But this might be because its themes resonated so profoundly with my experiences this past summer (love, illness, family, friendship and whatnot, but especially that damned illness part).
Binoche and Klapisch explore the wonderful world of Paris
Published Thursday 17 September 2009 07:13pm EST.
The City of Light, The City of Love. Clichés about Paris are a dime a dozen. In his new film, “Paris,” director Cédric Klapisch (“The Spanish Apartment,” “Russian Dolls”) may embrace these clichés, but he uses them to his advantage. What results is an inspired film that ends up being as original as it can get.
Klapisch and his lead actress, Juliette Binoche, sat down at the French Embassy last week to discuss how he avoided clichés while keeping the magic of the city intact. “It’s an intellectual city, so we needed to have somebody who’s not an intellectual.... It’s a city of tourists, of fashion, of gastronomy ... I tried to incorporate those clichés into something that, at the end, is not cliché anymore.”
“Paris” examines the city through the perspective of one man. Pierre (Romain Duris) is a dancer who is waiting for a heart transplant, having been diagnosed with a fatal heart condition. After the diagnosis, he spends his time observing Paris through his window, imagining the lives of his eccentric and diverse neighbors, while growing closer to his sister (Binoche).
“Paris” attempts to capture the city as a locus of the French identity, rather than the home of any particular story. This desire, according to Klapisch, is the reason for the ensemble cast: “Just like a metro map, Paris is a network of interconnections.” The multiple stories are, in fact, so intertwined that it is impossible to delineate them, which gives “Paris” complexity while keeping the plot linear and comprehensible.
In fact, the tone of “Paris” is both joyous and celebratory—a far cry from the tearjerker its synopsis suggests. It exposes the amusing awkwardness inherent to all human relationships. In one scene, Elise attempts a striptease, but has trouble taking off her sneakers without falling over. “I was channeling Rita Hayworth,” Juliette Binoche explained, laughing. In another, a middle-aged man attempts to write a “sexy” text message but ends up appearing like an inept stalker.
Binoche and Klapisch stressed the elements of Paris-the-city rather than Paris-the-film. But because of the movie’s overemphasis on the city, some of the characters’ relationships seem forced, even ludicrous. Yet, it is hard not to fall in love with its dizzying cinematography. As he did in “The Spanish Apartment,” Klaspich employs sweeping zoom-ins and panoramic views, giving the viewer the impression of seeing all of Paris, both the grimy and the glamorous. “The bad things are as true as the beautiful things. I wanted to face that,” said Klapisch.
The music—a surprisingly cosmopolitan mix of jazz, hip hop, and rock—also suits the city. Everything enhances the film’s peculiar mix of joy and profound melancholy. One can argue that even the uncomfortable idiosyncrasies (such as slight misogyny and awkwardness) can make for an even more honest portrayal of so complex and magnificent a city. As Klapisch said, “People are ... uneasy. It’s part of the identity of Parisians … they are not happy people. I can see that in a positive way, that everything that is historical about Paris deals with revolt. We don’t accept things as they are.”
“Paris” opens today at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema located on Broadway between 61st and 62nd streets. Tickets cost $12.00.