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  • TBC
  • Drama, Romance
  • 2006
  • 92 mins

Dans Paris

Dans Paris


A love letter to Paris, an homage to the Nouvelle Vague, and a Christmas family film


Christophe Honoré's Dans Paris is something of a Christmas miracle, a family film set in the season of cheer that does not leave you feeling like you have dined out on too much dessert. It is full of clever in-jokes and deconstructive trickery, yet the real human emotions at its core ensure that it always seems to be more substantial than a mere intellectual exercise. And, most miraculous of all, it is, as its title suggests, a French film in and about Paris that avoids all that city's cinematic clichés by knowingly ironising them.

Dumped by his long-term girlfriend Anna (Preiss) - who has correctly realised her love is no longer requited - the chronically depressed Paul (Duris) seeks refuge with his divorced father Mirko (Marchand) and younger brother Jonathan (Garrel) in their Paris apartment shortly before Christmas. In an attempt to cheer up Paul, Jonathan bets that he can get to Bon Marché in 30 minutes on foot. Jonathan's journey is repeatedly interrupted as he runs into a succession of women, including his ex-girlfriend Alice (Butaud), to whom, one after the other, he makes love. Meanwhile Paul mopes around the house, reflects upon his sister's actual (and his own attempted) suicide, makes his father worry, and laughs with his visiting mother (Pisier), until finally, later that evening, the brothers are reunited and together find warmth from the chill outside.

If the plot of Dans Paris is as slight as it sounds, then its treatment of family tragedy and domestic dysfunction is never less than serious. This bittersweet tone is embodied by the contrast between the two brothers and the way that they spend their day - one lugubrious and pent up in bed, the other carefree and constantly on the move. Bearded, miserable, and funny in a deadpan way without ever becoming ridiculous, Duris is reminiscent of Steve Carell's suicidal Frank from Little Miss Sunshine, while Garrel brings an energetic insouciance to every scene in which he appears, giving irrepressible cheekiness an acceptable face.

The raw charisma of these two leads would in itself be enough to carry Dans Paris, but equally charming is Honoré's loving revival of the French cinema of the 1960s. There is the handheld camerawork, the jarring jumpcuts, the manic montages and double-tracked dialogue, there is Alex Beaupain's cool jazz score, Jonathan breaking the fourth wall with an address to camera ("I'm speaking directly to you, dear viewer") and even, in direct homage to Jean-Luc Godard's 1967 film Weekend, the lovers' phone conversation conducted entirely in song - all of which bring the spirit of the Nouvelle Vague back to life, without in any way undercutting the film's own more contemporary drama.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Annabelle Hettmann, Romain Duris, Judith El Zein, Guy Marchand, Alice Butaud, Helena Noguerra, Louis Garrel, Joana Preiss
  • Director: Christophe Honor??
  • Writer: Christophe Honoré
  • Producer: Paulo Branco
  • Photographer: Jean-Louis Vialard
  • Composer: Alex Beaupain

In a nutshell

As fresh and bracing as the winter air.

by Anton Bitel

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