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  • 15
  • Romance
  • 2006

Paris, Je T'Aime

Paris, Je T'Aime


Eighteen short films, 20 directors and a host of international stars, all celebrating the City of Love


If a subtitle in the opening urban montage of Paris, Je T'Aime promises "little neighbourhood romances", the first words uttered in the film might suggest otherwise. "Shitty neighbourhood!" curses a man as he searches the streets of Montmartre for a parking place. When at last he locates one, he parks 'by ear', before wondering aloud why he cannot find himself a woman. The answer, obvious for all to see, is his self-centred arrogance, his piggish chauvinism and his unbelievable rudeness - but it is a mere moment before romance has fallen into his lap anyway, in the form of a mysterious woman (Muller) who faints by his car on her way to an urgent appointment with her "tobaccologist".

This is 'Montmartre', directed and written by Bruno Podalydès who is also its star - and although it is only the first of 18 short vignettes that make up Paris, Je T'Aime, each named after and set in a different arrondissement of the metropolis, Podalydès' piece is such a breathlessly surreal celebration of so many Gallic stereotypes that the viewer is left wondering where else the rest of the film can go. But with each section of the film confined to a breezy five minutes and made by a different team of international directors, writers, cinematographers and actors, Paris Je T'Aime is a rich and varied treat, with a fresh surprise round every corner.

Podalydès' short may get things rolling with an insider's view of Paris, but other pieces show other views. Gurinder Chadha's 'Quais De Seine', Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas' 'Loin Du 16ème', Christopher Doyle's crazy 'Porte De Choisy' and Oliver Schmitz's 'Place Des Fêtes' all present an immigrant perspective on the City of Love, while Joel and Ethan Coen's hilarious 'Tuileries', Vincenzo Natali's 'Quartier De La Madeleine', Wes Craven's 'Père-Lachaise' and Alexander Payne's perfectly pitched closer '14ème Arrondissement' reflect the experience of tourists.

Love, too, is shown in its many phases: from its first sparks (Olivier Assayas' 'Quartier Des Enfants Rouges') to its dying embers (Isabel Coixet's 'Bastille', Richard LaGravenese's 'Pigalle', Frédéric Auburtin and Gérard Depardieu's 'Quartier Latin' - the latter written by its star Gena Rowlands). Here we have gay love (Gus Van Sant's 'Le Marais'), maternal love (Nobuhiro Suwa's 'Place Des Victoires'), blind love (Tom Tykwer's 'Faubourg St-Denis'), the love triangle (Alfonso Cuarón's single-take, double-dealing 'Parc Monceau'), and even the silent love between mimes (Sylvain Chomet's clownish 'Tour Eiffel').

In Paris, Je T'Aime, comedy sits alongside tragedy, the rich meet the poor, vampires rub shoulders with cowboys (and the ghost of Oscar Wilde), outsiders are as much threatened as seduced, desire becomes drama, the French tongue is twisted into an international language of longing, and genre is as varied as the geography. In the end what unifies this collection is the city itself and the romance, sweet or at least bittersweet, that it promises - but the briskly clashing styles, tones and cultures that propel Paris, Je T'Aime, all jostling and intermingling like passers-by in a crowded metropolis, ensure that the cinematic pleasures come thick and fast, and that any moments of dullness are rare, and more importantly brief.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Nick Nolte, Ben Gazzara, Juliette Binoche, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Bob Hoskins, Fanny Ardant, Margo Martindale, Gena Rowlands, Catalina Sandeno Moreno, Steve Buscemi
  • Director: Walter Salles, Gus Van Sant, Olivier Assayas, Frédéric Auburtin, Joel Coen, Emmanuel Benbihy, Alfonso Cuarón, Vincenzo Natali, Ethan Coen, Isabel Coixet, Oliver Schmitz, Denis Podalydès, Daniela Thomas, Sylvain Chomet, Gérard Depardieu, Alexander Payne, Gurinder Chadha, Wes Craven, Christopher Doyle, Tom Tykwer, Nobuhiro Suwa, Richard LaGravenese
  • Screen Writer: Jane Hawksley, Paul Mayeda Berges, Alfonso Cuarón, Rain Kathy Li, Denis Podalydès, Tom Tykwer, Emmanuel Benbihy, Ethan Coen, Gena Rowlands, Richard LaGravenese, Gurinder Chadha, Wes Craven, Nadine Eid, Jean-Pierre Ronssin, Gabrielle Keng Peralta, Oliver Schmitz, Joel Coen, Vincenzo Natali, Gus Van Sant, Nobuhiro Suwa, Walter Salles, Christopher Doyle, Daniela Thomas, Alexander Payne, Olivier Assayas, Frédéric Auburtin
  • Writer (Book): Emmanuel Benbihy, Tristan Carné
  • Producer: Claudie Ossard, Emmanuel Benbihy
  • Photographer: Eric Gautier, Michel Amathieu, Michael Seresin, Eric Guichard, Gérard Simon, Jean-Claude Larrieu, Pascal Rabaud, Pascal Marti, Frank Griebe, Matthieu Poirot Delpech, Maxime Alexandre , Bruno Delbonnel, Denis Lenoir
  • Composer: Leslie Feist, Michael Andrews, Marie Sabbah, Reinhold Heil, Pierre Adenot, Christophe Monthieux, Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek

In a nutshell

Vive la différence! This bittersweet love-letter to France's capital is as richly cosmopolitan as the city itself.

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