Paris, Je T'aime

Reviewed By William Goss
Posted 07/02/07 03:14:22

"Love Is A Many-Splintered Thing"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

Love. Love lost and found. Love for a man, a woman, a child, a city. All in the city known for it.

It’s this love for love, in all its incarnations, that unites dozens of filmmakers and a considerable cast for the romantic anthology, Paris, Je T’aime, comprised of eighteen tales of contemporary romance, with each one taking place in a different Parisian neighborhood and each one offering a distinctly different yet fundamentally akin glimpse into relationships forming and falling apart.

In spite of the scattershot tendencies of the omnibus format, there is an admirable consistency to the quality of these shorts: half of them are good, and the rest are grand, and so far as averages go, that ain’t bad. Each runs under ten minutes, so while the least of the collection won’t exactly make for watch glancing, one can nonetheless take comfort in the promise of a new effort being mere minutes away.

The highlights include the Coen Brothers’ striking subway farce starring Steve Buscemi; acclaimed cinematographer Christopher Doyle’s bizarre yet lovely-looking effort involving a beauty salon; Isabel Coixet’s tale of the backlash of a bombshell on an adulterer; Nobuhiro Suwa’s story of grief and closure featuring Juliette Binoche and Willem Dafoe; Sylvain Chomet’s relentlessly charming piece about smitten mimes; Alfonso Cuaron’s father-and-daughter conversation between Nick Nolte and Ludivine Sagnier, done in one take with one twist; Vicenzo Natali’s wordless encounter between American tourist Elijah Wood and a vampire; Wes Craven’s ode to the wit of Oscar Wilde; and Alexander Payne’s tender tale of middle-aged lament.

Other stories with other stars come to mind – including those featuring Natalie Portman, Bob Hoskins, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gena Rowlands, and Catalina Sandino Moreno – but it really wouldn’t be fair to spell it all out. Thankfully, the typically trite element of overlapping storylines and intersecting characters is saved until the very end, where those moments carry a greater weight as the extent of the experiences come to fruition. It’s this underlying harmony to each of these distinct glimpses that makes Paris, Je T’aime greater than the sum of its parts, with situations and characters more sincerely amorous and emotionally viable than any eighteen Hollywood rom-coms combined.

Between the talent involved and the town itself, it’s hard to imagine a more moving mosaic taking place anywhere else, with anyone else taking part, but luckily, one need not worry about that. Us moviegoers can just take comfort in knowing that we’ll always have 'Paris.'

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