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A Likable, But Meandering, French Trifle Not For All Tastes
on September 24, 2010
I'm going to start out by saying that I really liked "Dans Paris" although I'm not particularly sure that it is a cohesive, or even a very good, movie. Louis Garrel is a compelling young actor who has made some interesting choices, and it was his presence here that drew me to the film. However, those who might complain about the plot's ambiguity or the lack of a plot altogether are not off base. A throwback to the French New Wave movement, "Dans Paris" seems more successful as an experience than as a narrative. Although there are many subjects to explore--family disintegration, marital strife, siblings reconnecting as adults, psychosexual politics, depression and suicide--the film ultimately floats along like a breezy entertainment never really examining anything in depth.
When Paul (Romain Duris) separates from his wife, he returns to Paris to live with his father and brother (Garrel). Paul's instability and attempts to harm himself are a major concern as the family has already been ripped apart by a previous incident of suicide. In the healing process, Paul must learn to communicate with his estranged wife Anna and reconnect with a mother he hardly sees. Compelling stuff, to be sure, but it's approached from unexpected angles. I'm still not sure why the story is presented from Garrel's viewpoint and why he breaks the fourth wall to speak directly to the viewer. That's a terrific device--but only when employed with a purpose.
The film does have its charms, however. The final scenes between the brothers are sweet and surprisingly touching. In these simple moments, you can see flashes of a great movie! I also found a strange musical interlude between Paul and Anna absolutely captivating and heartfelt. And then there's Garrel. I'm not sure what movie he is in but it doesn't always seem to be "Dans Paris." His sexual exploits have an attractive whimsy but seem disconnected from the principle story line. But he's so appealing, you might not care (although he should bathe between interludes, it's only polite)! A recommendation from me, but if you're new to this genre--I'd recommend you start with the classics of New Wave. KGHarris, 9/10.