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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    I Love Paris

    If you don’t love Paris yet, ‘Paris, Je T’aime’ will give you 18 reasons to start.

    Formally arranged along the idea of filming one vignette within each of the 20 distinct ‘arrondissiments’ of Paris (only 18 made the cut), the five-minute shorts are emotionally and thematically centered around the idea of love in Paris (the title means ‘Paris, I love you’).

    Notable directors from all around the world ‘- among them Gus Van Sant, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuaron, Tom Twyker, the Coen Brothers, and Gerard Depardieu ‘- came together to make vignettes filmed on-location in Paris that, whether planned this way or not, ended up representing the many facets of life there and the many reasons why foreigners and Parisians alike love (and hate) the city.

    The stories depict Parisians, visitors, tourists, foreigners and immigrants as they make their way through the city of light and experience grief, anger, frustration, joy, sadness, hope and love, love, love!

    A lonely man sitting in his car helps a woman up off the sidewalk after she faints, creating a bond between the two solitary Parisians.’ A young French teen befriends a young woman in a hijab and rises above the coarseness of his friends.’ An American actress (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) gets called on by her drug dealer while at a party for the costume drama she’s filming. A young woman from South America (played by Catalina Sandino Moreno of ‘Maria Full of Grace’) gets up at the crack of dawn to take three trains to her job as a nanny while her own child stays at a dumpy day care.’ A desperate mother (Juliette Binoche) searches for her dead child on the deserted streets of Place des Victoires, and an American woman describes in heavily-accented French her solitary awakening in Paris.

    Though at times widely disparate, this pastiche of styles and stories warms the heart, stimulates the brain, and will make you want to run to the study abroad office immediately to spend your next semester in France.

    On the other hand, the panoply of talent that unfolds on the screen in the form of skilled directors and acclaimed actors will have you wondering why you are not a theater or film major.

    Other notable performances worth mentioning include that of a struggling American actress, played by Natalie Portman, who has a relationship with a blind young man; Rufus Sewell (‘The Holiday’) and Emily Mortimer (‘Matchpoint’), as tourists who argue and make up over Oscar Wilde’s grave; Steve Buscemi (‘The Interview’) as the unwitting tourist who accidentally provokes the malevolence of a young French punk and his girlfriend, leaving him at the end surrounded by scattered postcards of the Mona Lisa that he has just bought at the Louvre; and Gena Rowlands (‘The Notebook’) as a woman meeting with her soon-to-be-ex-husband for a last glass of wine in a Parisian cafe.

    These are only some of the many characters into whose lives we get to peek voyeuristically without judgment, without discrimination. With each story, a layer of mystery, beauty and reality is both added and peeled away, simultaneously revealing and obscuring, reminding us that a city as sprawling, complicated and irreducible as Paris can never be entirely summed up.

    Some stories could happen anywhere, while some are intimately connected to life in Paris and would be impossible without the Eiffel Tower glowing in the background. All of them contain a sense of magic that the world imagination inevitably associates with Paris.

    Whether light-hearted or serious, whether characters are kissing the grave of Oscar Wilde or kissing vampires, we can sense each director’s love for the project itself, for ‘Paris, Je T’aime.’ The film as a whole is a stirring, funny, and ultimately fulfilling portrait of and dedication to the city of love.

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