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on July 24, 2009
What is it about French films that makes the best of them so deeply reflective in a way that few American and British films achieve? Maybe it's that France itself is such a beautiful and evocative country, maybe it's that the French have a lifestyle that, for us non-French, appears so stylish and romantic... whatever... but when they get it right they really are in a different class, and "Paris" most definitely gets it right.

Beautifully filmed, brilliantly acted, and underpinned by a superb soundtrack, the film explores "real" peoples' lives slowly and above all subtly. Not a great deal happens, and there are no conclusions to the stories involved - a guy gets diagnosed with a life threatening heart condition, another chap falls in love with one of his students, a lonely single mother and a market stall trader are hesitantly drawn together, and an African dreams of getting to Paris to start a new life. That's about it really. But it's the way that this is all put together & explored that makes the film, and which achieves its objective of trying to capture what Paris is to people who live there or dream of living there - which of course means that its infused with their, often vague, hopes & fears and it has no clear & tidy "Hollywood style" endings... life's not like that.

At times funny, at times charming, and ultimately quite moving, Klapisch directs the film without reverting to heavy-handed sentimentality or high drama to make his points.... in fact, exactly the opposite: witness the fleeting, beautifully poignant shot at the end of the film as the African compares the view on the postcard of Paris that has driven him to make his journey there, and which underpins his hopes for the future, with the reality of it... nothing more needs to be said or filmed to capture what he must be feeling.

Perhaps the greatest credit to "Paris" is that, even though it's two hours long, subtitled (which is never the easiest way to watch a film), and devoid of any clever plot twists or unexpected surprises to hold your attention, by the end of it all... you really don't want it to end. It's that good.
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VINE VOICEon August 19, 2010
This is a French movie made for a French audience. As a result, for Americans, it provides a window into another culture which is familiar in some ways, but quite different in others. Personally, I love movies which transport me in this way.

Not surprisingly, the movie is visually beautiful, and thus does justice to the beauty of Paris. But more importantly, the movie uses its distinctively French style and sensibility in order to probe many facets of the human condition in a sensitive, penetrating, and balanced manner, thus taking us on quite a journey of diverse vicarious experiences, thoughts on questions big and small, and a wide spectrum of simple and complex emotions. In short, the movie gave me a lot to ponder, and I may need to eventually watch it again.

At the end of the journey, it's clear that this is by no means a feel-good movie, and my net feeling was closer to poignance than happiness or even ambivalence. But the movie does also illustrate the possibility and value of savoring, while we can, the positive elements of life (a very French attitude), some of which can be a source of hope, so the movie has an uplifting side as well - just like real life.

Highly recommended to anyone interested in a beautiful, entrancing, and relatively deep movie.
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PARIS is a kaleidoscopic view of that great City of Light inhabited with a variety of individuals each of whom is consumed with life and love and living and dying. Cédric Klapisch has written and directed this richly populated canvas as a background of a tender story of a Moulin Rouge male dancer Pierre (Romain Duris) who is diagnosed with a terminal heart disease requiring transplantation if he is to survive. But in the end the many characters introduced in 'incidental stories' have become so interesting that, instead of providing simply a background for Pierre's portrait, they become an integral part of the drama as well as indelibly stamped on the viewer's mind.

Pierre has kept his illness secret, yet when faced with the dire concept of a transplant he confides in his sister Élise (Juliette Binoche), a single mother of three, who takes him in to fill his boring days of self confinement. There is a palpable magic between the two as Élise attempts to bring Pierre out into the world of hope and of living. Incidental to her life are trips to the market where she observes the lives of the grocers and discovers their private lifestyles, information shared freely with the viewer. A Parisian North African communicates with his brother at home with a postcard of Paris, seducing the brother to brave all odds to come to the city. We also meet a jaded art historian Roland Verneuil (Fabrice Luchini) whose father has just died, an event that devastates his emotional brother Philippe (François Cluzet): Roland proceeds to have an affair with a student but his physical awakening is abruptly altered by the realities of Parisian life while Philippe progresses through his seemingly mundane existence toward a surprise ending. The grocers seek adventures with a group of girls among whom is the ex-wife of one of the men and in the process we observe the varying reactions of interpersonal relationships tested away from the eyes of group participation. All of these stories are white noise to Pierre's situation, and though Élise is able to make Pierre 'dance again' at a party of his fellow dancers she organizes, in the end Pierre is left to care for Élise's children while Élise finally opens her frozen heart to a new romance. At this point Pierre receives the inevitable telephone call that a transplant is ready, and as he proceeds to the hospital he opens his mind to the beauties of Paris. Some of the vignettes we have observed are completed while most simply continue - just like life in the glorious city so often considered the city of love.

All of the many roles are enacted by gifted actors, the cinematography offers us a different view of Paris than that of postcards and travel brochures, and the musical score ranges from popular music to the haunting 'Gnossiemme No. 1' of Erik Satie which is Pierre's theme music. At times the viewer feels lost in the complex overlay of the many stories being told, but settling back in a chair and just absorbing the film results in an evening of Parisian intoxication. Grady Harp, October 09
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on November 24, 2009
Cedric Klapisch's 2008 film "Paris" leaves the mind brimming for days. The film's symphonic drama and stunning cinematography invite the viewer to contemplate how we all not only take life for granted, but also reduce the complex lives of others into simple stories.

"Paris" showcases an ensemble cast, which includes the beautiful Juliette Binoche (Elise) from Chocolat (Miramax Collector's Series).

Much like in Richard Curtis's 2003 British romantic comedy, Love Actually (Widescreen Edition), "Paris" charts the loosely-connected lives of several characters living within a big city (Paris as opposed to London). The characters' connections to one another are mostly happenstance, and often known only to the audience.

The focal point of the film is the story of Pierre (Romain Duris), a retired cabaret dancer with a degenerative heart disease. Pierre needs heart bypass surgery. The doctor has told Pierre that he has a "50-50" shot of making it through the surgery.

With an ailing heart, and no longer able to continue his dance career, Pierre spends his days in the company of his sister Elise, and her three children, wandering around his apartment, standing on his apartment's balcony, and looking at the Paris cityscape. Elise has taken time off work to be with her brother.

Klipisch's film evokes Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, Rear Window (Universal Legacy Series). Like with the protagonist of Hitchcock's Rear Window (Universal Legacy Series) James Stewart (Jeff Jefferies), Pierre is confined to his apartment. But Pierre is sidelined with an ailing heart, not a broken leg.

Because Pierre's illness, unlike that of Jeff's, is life-threatening, his ruminations carry an existential weight that is utterly absent from that of Jeff's. Jeff in Rear Window (Universal Legacy Series) is more bored voyeur than brooding philosopher.

Pierre's thoughts are concerned with loftier matters: the seeming obliviousness with which the inhabitants of Paris, a city teeming with life and business, take for granted their health.

In the film, on a number of occasions, Klapisch fills the screen with the solitary image of a confined Pierre gazing out his apartment window, like an explorer standing on a cliff's edge above the ocean. Below Pierre, the cityscape of Paris unfolds with the ebullient color palette of a Sisley painting. In Rear Window (Universal Legacy Series), Jeff's gaze is trapped within the borders of a dark, confined Greenwich Village courtyard.

Only on a few occasions does Pierre's gaze ever stray into a neighbor's window - through the apartment window of the beautiful Mélanie Laurent (Laetitia). Pierre's brief, voyeuristic foray is only a function of his existential angst - time is potentially running out for him to make love one last time. He is thinking Laetitia may be for him a possible lover; the audience knows the futility with which his hopes rest (Laetitia is already entangled in two coinciding love affairs - and Pierre is an awkward lover).

The tight borders that confine the world, which Jeff spends his days observing in Rear Window (Universal Legacy Series), lead only to him getting entangled in a murder investigation. But Paris for Pierre conjures up meaning and clairvoyance. Paris helps Pierre make sense of his situation. The expansiveness of the world he contemplates provides him with a perspective he has never had before.

The film ends with Pierre riding in a cab to his heart surgery, staring longingly out at the city that he fears he will never see again. On the ride, Pierre points to the spiritually-lost Fabrice Luchini (Roland Verneuil) strolling down the sidewalk, and proclaims that he wishes he could be like Roland (to Pierre, a stranger), carefree and healthy.

But Roland is far from carefree. He is a self-absorbed, middle-aged man, who had just had his hopeless affair with one of his students (Laetitia) end nastily. Roland's isolation is compounded by his father's recent death, and the contempt with which he treats his brother, and what he views as his brother's conventional life. Roland, by indulging in his own fear of loneliness, over the course of the film, only becomes lonelier.

As a healthy stranger walking the streets of Paris, Roland is to Pierre someone of whom to be jealous. Through Pierre's reduction of Roland's life, and his reduction of the lives of all the other strangers walking the city-streets of Paris, Klapisch illuminates an important irony.

The perspective that Pierre finds in his personal wrangling with death is also blinding; Pierre is a poor empathizer (he covets the life of a man who is clinically depressed and utterly lost). Even the vilest of men to Pierre become romanticized - and with great reason - they have life! At least on the surface, they have life. Locked in the shackles of his self-absorption, what kind of life does Roland really have?

Towards the end of the film, a minor character, Caroline, played by Julie Ferrier, catapults to her death in a motorcycle accident, highlighting a second irony in Pierre's situation.

Pierre's awareness of his own situation imprisons him. The unfairness of his situation seems far less unfair when compared to Caroline's. Pierre has a 50-50 shot of living. Caroline is dead. But Pierre, if he saw Caroline zooming on her motorcycle the very day she died, would have probably thought - if only I could be like that woman! Carefree and healthy! Zooming around like there is no tomorrow!

How can we gain the perspective that the imminence of our own mortality provides us, when our mortality is not imminent? For Roland and Caroline, and everyone else for whom death is seemingly far-off, mortality is more a source of anxiety than clairvoyance.

Perhaps the average citizen's obliviousness to mortality is what frustrates Pierre the most. Pierre cannot help but to lament that his experience is lost on millions of people, as they buzz around Paris like a bee colony, answering to the needs of their everyday lives, while Pierre consciously and quietly marches to his own end.
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on October 10, 2011
I love French cinema and Paris - but did not have high hopes for this film. I rented it because I was missing Paris and could tell that the film would have great shots of Paris- and it did.
I have never cared for Binoche. I found the beginning of the film to be hackneyed and trite. The character of the professor was off-putting and a bit creepy.
Nevertheless- by the end of the film, I was won over and I think the film is good but not great.
One of my favorite activities (shared by many visitors to Paris) in Paris is watching the life swirl around me on the streets and in the surrounding houses. This film captures this experience. We are brought into the interlocking worlds of a number of characters whose lives intersect in ways they do and do not perceive. Although there are some truly clunky aspects (the affair between student and prof was not credible, the young man's illness seemed to be conveyed in an unconvincing manner, the last-minute intersection of the professor and the dying man, the motorcycle accident, the fashionistas in the warehouse) of this conceit in the film, the melange is ultimately messy, unresolved, and poignant. One is left with a true appreciation for the people whose lives touch our own.

Some of the best scenes:
the small-minded owner of a boulangerie
the party scene (what great dancing)
the father-to-be
the cruelty of the young student
the tenderness between the fruit seller and Elise
Elise and her children

The last scene- where the dying man looks upon his nieces and nephew, says good bye to this sister, and takes a cab to the hosptial- was just like the film iself- hackneyed, trite,and clunky in places ---but ultimately true-to-life, messy, unresolved, poignant and somewhat magical.
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on February 24, 2013
First off, I will admit right away I am totally obsessed with France in general and Paris in particular so I am partial that way. However putting that aside, I still give this movie five stars. Of course, I loved the atmosphere and seeing Paris, getting a feel of everyday life in Paris. Beyond that though is the message. The ending tied the whole movie together and at least to me I felt strongly about the importance of appreciating every precious moment of your life. That being said the movie itself is not without flaws; it lags in parts a bit and the characters never truly develop so individually I never got into any of them. As a whole though the main thrust of the movie rang true. And the scenery and feel of Paris itself was already worth every cent to me.
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on May 12, 2016
I love listening to and watching Joe Satriani play. He's not a rock star like Steve Vai, but he's very expressive.The problem with this movie is the editing and sound synchronization is so poor it makes it difficult to appreciate the performance or the film making.

Too many effects and the musicians' motion rarely matches the music we hear. It's either completely off or just of enough to be distracting. I honestly thought it was my device so I tried it on more than one. Save your money and watch Montreal instead.
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on January 6, 2013
A character study on some not so credible characters. The movie was a look at 4 or 5 characters in Paris that were very loosely connected. Lots of movies asks you to check your skepticism in at the door, and this was no exception. The main two characters were Juliette Binoche playing a divorced single mom who has given up on life and her brother, a former dancer in the Paris vaudeville scene, who has been diagnosed with a terminal heart condition which will require a heart transplant. Neither character was real enough to explore very deeply.

Dialogue was good as was the cinematography.
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on April 13, 2015
a beautiful moving item to add to your Paris collection. Juliette Binoche is a french actress, well know for her role in the movie, Callas". She does her acting so well, a real delight to see her in action in this movie. A great choice, besides the sights of beloved "PARIS". A joy to watch.
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on January 5, 2011
I do believe that it takes a bit of patience on the part of an American viewer to comprehend the deeper areas explored in French film. Often I see that we rarely can look past our ignorance and cheeky criticism of "French anything", and it is a shame because their film is so much more powerful and thought felt than any American or British product. They may not be up to par on our cliche action flicks or our type of film but they instead offer a great, refreshing look at film that boasts strong emotions. That after all is what French life is about. They live life not as we do, they respect it's greatness and they live for the day. After spending some time myself in Paris I can tell you that unlike American film which rarely correctly reflects upon our culture, this movie does. If your looking for a bit of Paris for yourself and a real feeling that can little be achieved elsewhere, find it in this film. I loved it, and you will too if you are looking to learn something. It also couldn't hurt to love the langauge, but honestly subtitles are hardly something to hold against any film.
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