Paris – A Movie by Cédric Klapisch (2008)

I watched this movie as part of Book Bath‘s and Thyme for Tea‘s event Paris in July.

Paris is an absolutely charming movie and I’m sure it will appeal to many people because it combines a good story with interesting character portraits, wonderful pictures of Paris and a great cast (Juliette Binoche, Mélanie Laurent, Fabrice Luchini, Albert Dupontel and Romain Duris). I feel really homesick now.  All the places to which I used to go while I lived in Paris can be seen: La Place de La Sorbonne, the Jardin du Palais Royal, the Bibliothèque Nationale. But we also see Ménilmontant where I used to live briefly after I had finished school.

Paris tells one main story, different smaller side stories branch out from it. The people of the main and the side story are only connected because they live in the same town and their paths cross but they don’t get to know each other. Parallel storylines don’t always work well but in this movie they complete each other and the outcome is nicely rounded. The movie has really only one flaw, a brief “All-you-need-is-love”-moment towards the end of the film. Watching this short part was like biting on a lump of sugar in an otherwise tasty cake.

The central characters are Pierre (Romain Duris) and Élise (Juliette Binoche). Pierre is a professional dancer whose best friend is his older sister Élise, a fortysomething divorcée with two kids. At the beginning of the movie Pierre is diagnosed with a serious heart disease that means his career as a dancer has come to an end. He is condemned to stay in his apartment and watch life go by. This offers a great opportunity to have him observe people, one of them is the beautiful Laetitia (Mélanie Laurent). Whenever Pierre is alone, walking the streets of Paris, mourning his career, contemplating his possible death, his reflections are accompanied by the music of Erik Satie. I liked that touch a lot.

Élise doesn’t belive in love anymore. She has been disappointed, doesn’t want to risk falling in love. When she goes shopping for her brother to the street market, near where he lives, she meets one of the vendors (Albert Dupontel) and there seems, from the beginning, a possibility for something between them.

Roland Verneuil (Fabrice Luchini) is an elderly professor of history. His story was for me the most touching. We learn about it because he falls in love with one of his students, Laetitia who lives in an apartment vis-à-vis of Pierre’s flat and he watches her. Verneuil is insecure but at the same time there is a lot of passion in him that has been stored away for a long time. Falling in love with a student reawakens him and brings out a very different person. There is nothing sleazy in this older man falling in love with a young woman. Unfortunately the beautiful Laetitia is one of those good-looking women who enjoys not only to play with men but who also likes to inflict pain. A nasty piece of work.

I loved the melancholy end of the movie. We  know from the start that there isn’t a lot of hope for Pierre. He needs a transplant and he may or may not survive the surgery. The last scene shows him travel through Paris in a taxi, on his way to the hospital.

Paris is a beautiful and touching movie and a homage to a city. I liked it even better than Paris, Je t’aime which isn’t bad at all either.

24 thoughts on “Paris – A Movie by Cédric Klapisch (2008)

    • I’m curious to hear what you think. I know you like Fabrice Luchini as well, don’t you? I really liked that part but also a lot of the rest. It might restore your Paris illusions. There is only this one flawed moment that I mention…

  1. I am oddly squeamish about films (and books come to that) that feature life-threatening illnesses. I tend to become very mistrustful and think the film is about to manipulate my emotions in a very easy way and I just HATE that. So for instance, Ghost is my most hated film of all time. Other than that element of the plot, this sounds good and I do admire Juliette Binoche. I think she’s a fantastic actress.

    • Nothing to worry in terms of easy manipulation of your feelings in a French movie.
      It’s just a honest look at a difficult situation and what chnaces it could bring. It’s handled very well.
      I like Juliette Binoche a lot.

  2. I really liked this film, I’m a Klapisch fan anyway. And a Romain Duris fan too.

    For beautiful images of Paris, really, Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen is wonderful. And it’s really special for book lovers.

    • I was thought you might have liked it. I’m not such a Woody Allen fan. Or not anymore. I find him a bit repetitive but I heard a lot of good things about this one.

  3. I have added this to my Netflix queue and am happy to see it is also streaming–of course will have to wait to watch it as it is too hot in my computer room at the moment. It sounds good and perhaps the closest I will get to Paris anytime soon! Do you ever think of going back to live there?

    • I’m sure you will like it, it’s a lovely movie. It is cold here btw. Very weird.
      No, I don’t want to return anymore. It is somehow over.
      I’ve been looking at job offers in Berlin lately. For one reason or another I’m very attracted by Germany these days. I would like to got to Paris more regularly again though. It is only 3hrs by train.

  4. I like your way of describing it as a tasty cake. I never use that word for a movie before.

    This post reminds me of last night’s movie in TV. It was Lucky Luke, and I love the comic, but I was dissapointed when the TV dubbed it 😦 … I hope it was still in French. I ended up turning off the TV

    • Yeah the cake comparison… For once that I could use it I had to. Wouldn’t be too appropriate for Saving Private Ryan or Black Hawk Down…. 🙂 Dubbed movies are horrible…

  5. I watched this a few months ago and enjoyed it very much. I’ll watch about anything with Fabrice Luchini. 🙂 Have you seen him in Intimate Strangers? Kind of dark and slow, but I liked it.

  6. Pingback: A review of Paris | 50 Year Project

  7. hi! i’ve just watched the film for the second time and I’m dying to know where is Pierre’s flat located. maybe you could help? please, I guessed it must be in 20 arrondissement, but it still haunts me!

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