A Collaborative Piece of Love*

         Paris Je t’aime is a mixture of eighteen short stories, directed in 2006 by more than a dozen different directors from around the world. Each short film veers in the direction of love, tragedy and comedy. The motif of these collaborated films is mostly the power of love and the magic that Paris, France, can create.

         This very artsy film combines visions from the world’s top directors, like the Coen brothers (Fargo), Alexander Payne (Sideways), Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting) and actors like Natalie Portman (Closer), Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings Trilogy), and Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs).

         Picture postcards overview establishes the ambient beauty quotient of Paris. They are followed by capsule views in a tic-tac-toe split screen format. Fears that the venture might be a series of glorified ads quickly dissipate as good actors portraying (mostly) real people are given the figurative floor. Each segment, set in one of the neighborhoods within the city's official administrative districts, is pinpointed with the name of the vicinity and the corresponding director superimposed over an establishing shot.

         In one particular segment titled (“Parc Monceau”), director Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) uses a very risky tactic by shooting a five-mintue scene in one shot alone. The scene starts out by showing a quick montage of a busy Paris and then cuts to Nick Nolte’s character (Vincent) getting off a bus to meet a much younger girl. The genius of this segment is the deception of their relationship that is revealed in a short five minutes. The viewer can only understand by the conversation that the two of them are having an affair with each other. But it is later revealed that Vincent is the younger girl’s father. When the two reach their destination, Vincent’s daughter leaves with a friend; and Vincent is left babysitting.

         This gutsy film making tactic seems to only be used by most international directors. This is probably due to the fact that international directors are usually shooting more artsy and independent style films, and that kind of style allows them to do so.

Derek Owen

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