Review: Paris, Je T’aime (movie)

paris_movie-754580I really enjoyed Paris, Je T’Aime, a 2006 anthology movie featuring 18 vignettes set in (and inspired by) Paris. It features an ensemble cast of American, British and French actors (Bob Hoskins, Natalie Portman, Elijah Wood, the ubiquitous Gérard Depardieu, and many more) and directors (Alfonso Cuarón, Gus Van Sant, Wes Craven, Bruno Podalydès, The Coen Brothers, etc.)

As with any anthology, there are hits and misses, but the vast majority of the shorts were well done. A few of my favorites:

Parc Monceau – A conversation between Nick Nolte and a young woman, filmed in a single continuous shot, with a very clever, funny, and unexpected ending.

Loin du 16e – a heartbreaking piece about an immigrant nanny.

Quartier des Enfants Rouges – notable not so much for the story itself, but actress Maggie Gyllenhaal delivering her entire dialogue in French, with a great accent to boot.

14e arrondissement – a bittersweet story as told in broken French by a middle-aged American tourist (actress Margo Martindale, who went on to win an Emmy for her role as Mags Bennett on Justified, one of my favorite shows). She’s making a “book report” of sorts for her French class about her first trip abroad, and it’s simply emotive and quietly heartbreaking.

Watching the movie, it suddenly occurred to me that this is what a Lifelike movie would look like, were such a thing ever to come about. The individual films are all very short, 5-10 minutes each. And they’re filmed in a variety of styles and techniques.

The producers of this film followed it up with New York, I Love You in 2008, but I didn’t enjoy that one quite as much. It just didn’t have the same charm and ambiance, probably because I romanticize Paris way more than NYC.

Anyway, I highly recommend this movie.

(A version of this review originally appeared on my Ferret Press blog, January 2008.)

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