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  Publicity Stills of "Paris, Je T'aime"
Courtesy of Festive Films

In English & French, with English and Chinese Subtitles
Director: Olivier Assayas, Frédéric Auburtin
Starring: Natalie Portman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Elijah Wood, Juliette Binoche, Catalina
Sandino Moreno, Nick Nolte, Bob Hoskins, Rufus Sewell, Ludivine Sagnier,
Gena Rowlands and Steve Buscemi
RunTime: 2 hrs
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & Festive Films
Rating: NC-16 (Some Coarse Language)
Official Website: www.festivefilms.com/paris

Opening Day: 22 Feb 2007

Soundtrack: Read Our Review On The Original PARIS JE T'AIME Soundtrack

Interview With The Director: LOVE IS MANY A SPLENDID THING


In PARIS, JE T'AIME, celebrated directors such as Wes Craven, the Coen Brothers, Gus Van Sant, Gurinder Chadha, Walter Salles, Alexander Payne, Frederic Auburtin and Olivier Assayas, have come together to show Paris in a way never before imagined. Through a kaleidoscope of stories about joy, separation, unexpected strange encounters and of course -- love -- their
films capture both the reality of contemporary Paris as well as the enchantment one feels as a visitor.

Movie Review:

In an attempt to bridge the artistic visions of 18 internationally diverse directors, each successful in their own right, “Paris, je t’aime” (or “Paris, I Love You”) becomes a self-sufficient omnibus that does not need to be held together by a consistent narrative. Especially with a stellar cast that includes Fanny Ardant, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Elijah Wood, and Juliette Binoche et al. Bracketed by the timeless and magical appeal of Paris, it effuses itself with a searing sense of perception by its native directorial pool and an effervescent espousal by the outsiders who have embraced Paris’s tapestry of cultures.

The directors (in order of appearance) are:

1. Montmartre - written and directed by Bruno Podalydès
2. Quais de Seine - co-written by Paul Mayeda Berges et réalisé par Gurinder Chadha
3. Le Marais - written and directed by Gus Van Sant
4. Tuileries - written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
5. Loin du 16e - written and directed by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas
6. Porte de Choisy - co-written by Gabrielle Keng and Kathy Li and directed by Christopher Doyle
7. Bastille - written and directed by Isabel Coixet
8. Place des Victoires - written and directed by Nobuhiro Suwa
9. Tour Eiffel - written and directed by Sylvain Chomet
10. Parc Monceau - written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón
11. Quartier des Enfants Rouges - written and directed by Olivier Assayas
12. Place des fêtes - written and directed by Oliver Schmitz
13. Pigalle - written and directed by Richard LaGravenese
14. Quartier de la Madeleine - written and directed by Vincenzo Natali
15. Père-Lachaise - written and directed by Wes Craven
16. Faubourg Saint-Denis - written and directed by Tom Tykwer
17. Quartier Latin - written by Gena Rowlands, directed by Gérard Depardieu and Frédéric Auburtin
18. 14e arrondissement - written and directed by Alexander Payne

Set around 18 neighbourhoods in Paris, each 5-minute segment begins with an intertitle with both the district and director’s names superimposed over a shot of the area. It’s a simple and effective introduction for each of the vignettes that segues the last shot of a story as the corresponding story’s establishing shot. There’s a discernable effort to cement each vignette into a continuous and functional narrative that ends up tenuous and forgettable. But what sticks is the raison d'être of a cinematic effort of this magnitude, which is simply to explore the multitudes of Paris’s most famous export – Love.

Never mind the romance. Different facets of love are given its fair share of discovery. Love found, love lost, parental love, love born out of guilt, unresolved love, obsessive love, unrequited love, love at first sight, floundering love etc. are all described hauntingly, poetically and at times downright amusingly, all through each director’s idiosyncrasies. There’s no singular establishing tone or mood that is funnelled throughout the entire film. “Paris, je t’aime” is much more than a sum of its parts. Each segment is given the director’s own treatment, indeed it’s plain to see that each luminary had been given carte blanche to create the instalment of their choice with the overriding criterion that it has to be set in their respective districts.

With varied focuses and styles on display, there are decidedly earnest segments that fall short when propped against its more flamboyant and visually stimulating counterparts, but in the end all are agreeable and piquant in the idealism that fuels each effort. The film stutters along in Bruno Podalydès’ opening but steadily picks up steam as Gurinder Chadha’s sensitive but cursory multi-cultural love story kicks in. The crescendo reaches its peak early on with Walter Sills and Daniela Thomas’s ‘Loin du 16e’ that crosses political and social lines to a powerfully rendered exposé of childcare and economic trappings of immigrant life. It then soldiers on to Sylvain Chomet’s (of “The Triplets of Belleville” fame) ‘Tour Eiffel’, a live-action love story between mimes. He imbues his story with the imaginative animated characters and exaggerated Parisian attributes of his surroundings.

Of course, there are also shorts that seem to be more about the director’s style and exercises in facetious techniques rather than emoting a genuine feel of the city’s spirit. Notably, Alfonso Cuaron’s 5-minute long take of a sidewalk conversation ambiguously held between an older man and a young French woman, Tom Tykwer’s return to his frenetic style seen in “Lola Rennt” and Vincenzo Natali’s surreal vampiric tale replete with ensuing comic book imagery.

Would the film have benefited more from the participation of several other masters? Undoubtedly. There seems a gaping, untenable hole that screams out for the input of France’s Eric Rohmer or Jean-Luc Godard but considering that plans are already in motion for segments to be filmed in New York and Tokyo, there’s plenty of hope left that other directors from around the world will be apart of this anthology.

Movie Rating:

(Intoxicating and thoroughly enjoyable)

Review by Justin Deimen

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