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PARIS JE T’AIME

Director: VARIOUS

FRANCE-SWITZERLAND • 2006 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 120 MIN


A STELLAR LINE-UP OF INTERNATIONAL TALENT SALUTES EVERY LOVER’S FAVOURITE CITY IN THIS GENEROUS PORTMANTEAU OFFERING.
As fireworks explode over the Eiffel Tower, the opening prompts fears of picture-postcard prettiness, but the producers had the smart idea of inviting each distinguished film-maker to consider an individual quarter of the city, thus portraying the French capital as a diverse, vibrant metropolis rather than just one big museum. Packing 18 different vignettes into its two-hour running time, it’s a whirlwind tour all right, but there are some unexpected sights along the way, with both the Brazilian Walter Salles and the South African Oliver Schmitz uncovering the lives of the immigrant underclass, and Canadian Vincenzo Natali delivering Elijah Wood to a seductive vampire on the streets near Madeleine.
Of course, it would be unfair to suggest that everything comes off (did someone slip something into noted cameraman Chris Doyle’s drink?), but the highlights outweigh the occasional misfires. Working within such a compact frame sorts out the masters from the merely accomplished, and shining examples include a delightful Coen Brothers’ number with Steve Buscemi on the Metro ignoring his guide book’s advice at his peril; Olivier Assayas’s expressively louche nocturnal odyssey with movie actress Maggie Gyllenhaal in search of artificial stimulants; and Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzarra imperiously reunited for actor-director Gerard Depardieu. The best is saved for last though, with director Alexander Payne turning in a gem-like tragicomedy in which Middle America meets the City of Lights and the French language is still recovering. A veritable celluloid menu degustation. —Trevor Johnston.

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