Last night marked a first visit to the IFI (Irish Film Institute). The IFI, I have gathered and can now confirm is a wonderful venue for those in the know. They feature a full slate of movies, largely European indie flicks, definitely of eclectic rather than popular taste. Last night for example featured: Paris, City of Men, L’Heure d’été and Ledjis.
Last night’s objective was to see the rather innocuously named Paris. Read the movie summary, but went in with little idea about what we were going to see. This 2008 film from Cédric Klapisch earns a very strong must see recommendation! It centres on the flamboyant professional dancer Pierre (Romain Duris), who has been diagnosed with a terminal heart condition and his sister (Juliette Binoche) who sheds work responsibilities to move in and care for him. Much in the style of his earlier, and superb L’Auberge Espangnole, Klapisch ingeniously webs a series of tangentially interlocking story lines. He keeps you guessing at to when and where the stories will intersect, and aside from some rather clumsy foreshadowing in one of the tragic sequences, he plays his hand well. The characterization is superb and the expressions, smiles, curses, antics of our players take us on a emotional journey into their lives, pains, and struggles. This is all balanced against a sumptuous treatment of the urban fabric of Paris. Moving from aerial shots from balconies and rooftops, to the catacombs to Versailles, the film finds root in the homes of Pierre and of Paul, an aging professor (Fabrice Luchini) whose father’s death suddenly makes him face a narrowly successful but largely unrealized life. Paris features a wonderfully evocative dream sequence, blending animation and a Second Life sort of effect. A further playful striptease sequence by Binoche to the tune Sway, is a waggish treat.
There are probably one or two character/stories too many, but this barely detracts from the overall experience. One is drawn into Paris, into the lives of the characters and their neighbourhood. The setting is a sumptuous treat, Paris in its splendour but with an unkempt, complex, unresolved side exposed with aplomb. Four and half of five stars.
This is cross-posted to Randomosity.