Dans Paris is a homage to the many Parisian-set classics of the French New Wave, the most notable being Godard’s Two or Three Things I Know About Her and Jacques Rivette’s Paris Nous Appartient.
The opening straight-to-camera monologue by Jonathan (Louis Garrel), in which he tell us, ‘I know it is tacky to talk straight to camera,’ is inspired by the playful narrative techniques of Godard rather than Michael Caine in Alfie. It is pretentious, but run with it and the brilliance of Christophe Ma Mère Honoré’s romantic drama becomes apparent.
In best nouvelle vague tradition the story concerns guys with girl trouble. The rub of the story is revealed as Jonathan, with the Eiffel Tower over his shoulder, muses, ‘What would make someone jump off a bridge?’ Enter older brother Paul (Romain Duris from The Beat That My Heart Skipped at his winsome best). Paul has just moved back to Paris to live with his witty father (Guy Marchand) and younger brother after the end of his relationship with Anna (Joana Preiss). In an extended flashback montage sequence, in which chronology is treated with disdain, the highs and lows of Paul and Anna’s relationships are highlighted. Jonathan spends the rest of the movie trying to get Paul out of his slumber but only succeeds in sleeping with three girls in one day and demonstrating how his frivolous attitude to matters of the heart makes him the figure in need of a rain check when it comes to love.
Honoré’s playful, wild film is stuffed with references to the cinema of Rivette (particularly Celine and Julie Go Boating) and the literature of JD Salinger. It’s marvellous fun, and worth the entrance fee alone just to watch Duris in bed humming along to a song as he desperately tries to remember the words. Most exceptionally it hits a raw emotional nerve when depicting the frail and fickle nature of people in love. Multiple viewings only add to the experience of the finest Beaujolais Nouveau to arrive from France in years.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 8-Thu 14 Jun. GFT, Glasgow, Fri 15-Thu 1 Jun.