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July 16, 2007 | by  | in Film |
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Paris, je t’Aime

Paris, je t’Aime is a collection of short films, strung together by the common theme, as suggested by the title, of love in Paris. It’s a film of solid pedigree, the directors including Hollywood critics’ darlings Gus van Sant and the Coen Brothers, Germany’s Tom Twyker, French legend Gerard Depardieu, and Mexican Alfonso Cuaron among others. The cast is similarly star studded with Elijah Wood, Nick Nolte, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Marianne Faithfull, Juliette Binoche and Steve Buscemi. Such films made up of shorter films are novel, but, dare I say it, a bit gimmicky. But there are some advantages to making a short film. First, it is a lot easier to hold an audience’s attention for five minutes than two hours.

Many of the filmmakers make the most of this, putting across a short, sharp idea or situation which would fail if padded out much more. Some sequences are brilliantly done, such as the Coen brothers’ hilarious and somewhat cruel depiction of Steve Buscemi’s metro station adventure. Elijah Wood and the vampire girl are also compellingly weird. Others come off somewhat unfinished: Walter Salles’ piece about a young mother (Catalina Sandino Moreno) who works on the other side of the city as an au pair is an example. Paris, je t’Aime suffers in that it is a humanist film, and many of the directors simply do not have the time and space to make their audience care enough; the most touching segments, bar one or two, suffer the most in the reduced format. The other downside is that with so many films stacked on top of one another, many of them will not get the attention they deserve. After seeing the film I had to trawl through IMDB to remember half of the sixteen sequences. I would still recommend Paris, je t’Aime as it is more novel than gimmick. Some sequences are forgettable while others explode effectively and crisply across the screen. There are even a few which should stick in your mind well into the next sequence.

STEVEN SODERBERGH

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