Paris Je T’Aime was released in France over a year ago in 2006. It was released in the U.S. this past spring and is still playing in some theaters. I’ve wanted to see the film since it came out last year – and finally have gotten around to it. At the time of its screening a year ago in Cannes, the reviews were mixed. Sometimes it’s a good idea to let a little dust settle.
Paris, Je T’Aime may be one of those films that needs aging to appreciate. Its best qualities like a fine wine will definitely improve with time. First of all, a big bravo to the original opening music by Pierre Adenot. Those first few measures set the tone. I didn’t really care what happened next after hearing the music (that’s not completely true – but you know what I mean – the music’s so good – something good is bound to happen, right?)
Paris, Je T’Aime isn’t one film. It’s an assortment of 18 flavors of Paris, short and bittersweet. With 21 directors and so many topnotch actors. Skim across the billboards and you’re bound to recognize some of the ‘biggies’: Nick Nolte, Miranda Richardson, Gerard Depardieu, Ben Gazzarra, Marianne Faithful, Fanny Ardant, Gena Rowlands, Elijah Wood, Bob Hoskins, Maggie Gyllenhaal to name just a few of the excellent actors that squeeze the maximum of their skills into their alloted five minutes on screen.
The original assignment was to create 20 different short films (one film for each arrondissement), 20 stories about love in the city of lights. However, only 18 films were realized. The XV and the XI are missing.
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There’s a good chance that if you’re coming to Paris for three or four days, you may never set foot in some of the neighborhoods featured in Paris Je T’Aime. For example, Place des Fetes, located in Paris’ s northeastern corner of the 19th arrondissement might rate as one of the least likely to succeed as tourist trap.
The scene between Aissa Maiga, an emergency response medic and Seydou Boro, an immigrant stabbing victim is one of the most moving segments (in my opinion).
Although past reviewers have mentioned the lack of cohesion and the fact that not all stories measure to one another seem to miss many of the binding elements to these stories. Loneliness. Separation and Death are probably just as strong or stronger images than love in this film, and most certainly violence and drugs are prominent in several of the vignettes.
One viewer mentioned that when she walked out of the film she didn’t know whether to love it or hate it – or felt just confused.
Of the seventeen different stories, you will most certainly find one that will become your favorite. Think of going to see Paris Je T’Aime more like a mini film festival. It’s definitely worth the price of admission.