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

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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