FILM REVIEW: Lost In Paris

Aaah Paris. The city of love, the romance, the twinkly lights of the Eiffel Tower at night. The fresh baguettes and pharmacies at every street corner. The warm, putrid smell of hot tyres and piss emanating from the Metro street grates. The péniches, cruising slowly on the Seine, pale blue lights illuminating the old buildings facades, casting moving shadows over the Louvre, the Conciergerie, the Haussmanian buildings, the diners fighting over fork room on tiny round tables. Oh, I could go on, for I lived and studied in central Paris for a few years years and spent many hours in cafés, ordering “demis” without saying please and debating politics and literature with my fellow students, retreating to the river banks when beer money ran out, sitting on the cobbled stones, smoking cigarettes and watching the world go by; spending Sundays rollerblading along the river. 

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Paris is amazing. It’s beautiful. A real-life movie studio. Add a Jeunet-style filter, a Luhrman spin and it’s grandiose, theatrical, magical. No wonder it’s been the setting for so many movies over the decades, from Les Amants du Pont Neuf to La Haine,  Jules et Jim to Amelie; and the favoured destination of many Directors: Truffaud, Bertolucci, Polanski, Kieslowki, Klapish, Besson and Jeunet to name a few.

About twice a decade a new movie casting Paris alongside its main characters comes out. I always loved Besson’s 1985 Subway. Underrated in my opinion – especially since it’s probably one of Besson’s only original creations, Subway is the very cheesy, incredibly cast yet moderately well-acted story of half-a-dozen individuals who all hang out in the Parisian tube a lot. The best thing about it, aside from its ridiculously brilliant opening credit car chase, is the strange world those quirky characters live in, how normal it is to them and how they all interact with each other, no questions asked. 

A decade after Subway came out Klapish’s ‘When the Cat’s Away’, telling the story of a young 20-something Parisian trying to locate her missing cat through the streets of the Bastille area being torn down to make room for new buildings, through a network of lonely Parisian ladies and other random meetings. And again, we’re the spectator to a ballet of peculiar people bumping into each other and tolerating each other in such an un-Parisian way. 

A few years later came Amelie and its brightly coloured Paris, its Montmartre where the world of tourists, beggars and litter was consciously edited out, leaving us to enjoy a timeless, edulcorated Paris with yet again a world of oddballs, all lovable in their own way. 

It seems Paris makes all those scenarios possible, all those characters real. 

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Lost in Paris is not much different to that and -just like Amelie, it widely borrows from Kieslwoski’s Double Life of Veronique – it happily re-uses tried and approved methods to create the ultimate feelgood, very funny, Parisian comedy. 

Canadian Fiona decides to go to Paris following a letter of distress from her aunt, 88-year-old Martha, asking her to save her from the medical staff trying to get her into a retirement home. Unfortunately Fiona is accident-prone and mayhem ensues as soon as she sets foot in the French capital, when she accidentally falls into the river and loses all her property. Without her passport or money, and with aunt Martha not home, Fiona finds herself dining – courtesy of the Canadian embassy – in the same restaurant as homeless Dom, who found money that same day and is treating himself to food, Champagne and the arsey welcome only Parisian waiters can offer. 

And so Dom falls for Fiona and goes on chasing her while she chases Martha, while Martha chases after an elusive Duncan and her flaking memories. 

The movie tells the same tale through all three characters’ points of view without ever becoming repetitive or dull. The characters are very entertaining in their quirkiness and unaffected ways. Fiona Gordon and Dominique Abel are the movie directors and two main characters. Their ability to keep a straight face and their on-screen chemistry make them both very convincing characters. Aunt Martha is the late wonderful Emmanuelle Riva and her love interest is famous actor Pierre Richard. Although Pierre Richard’s appearance is short in the movie, it is one of those special ones, contributing to the movie poetry, to its inner nostalgia of time passing by that is hiding under all the slapstick. 

A very enjoyable watch

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score 3

Review by B.F. Jones

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