Monday, May 07, 2007

DANS PARIS and an ode to the pleasures of Love

TONIGHT, I sit to view Dans Paris. When in Paris...what's not to love? -MS

"Is it possible for a love story to make us jump off a bridge?" This archetypally French query, invoking giddy passion capable of driving those in its throes to suicidal despair, is posed by womanizing student Jonathan (mop-haired charmer Louis Garrel of Regular Lovers, SFIFF 2006) at the beginning of Christophe Honoré’s wistful tale of two brothers in the City of Lights. Speaking directly to viewers, Jonathan asking us to consider the thrills and hazards of l’amour fou as played out by Paul (unabashed romantic Romain Duris of L’Auberge Espagnol, SFIFF 2003), his depressed brother with a penchant for self-portraiture, pills and ’80s pop, and Anna, who prefers dancing topless in their flat overflowing with books and angst. Following a painful breakup, Paul retreats to his room back home with Jonathan and Mirko, their baffled papa who hopes that a hot bowl of chicken soup will cure his son’s depression (an illness that already claimed the life of his beloved daughter Claire). More than one family member eventually plunges into the Seine, but despite the film’s weighty themes it is not a tragedy, and the relative safety of the riverbank is blessedly within reach. Recalling vintage Godard and Truffaut in its playful approach to serious subjects and beguiling shifts in tone and tempo, Honoré’s New Wave homage is positively effervescent. Like his carefully observed Close to Leo, which centered on affectionate fraternal bonds, and markedly unlike his audacious Ma Mère, which flaunted incestuous S&M theatrics, Dans Paris moves lightly to jazz tunes in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Filled with references to iconic French films, Honoré’s ode to the pleasures of love, family and reading in bed takes its restless place among those classics.—Steven Jenkins

West Coast Premiere. Sponsored by agnes b., TV5MONDE, Alliance Française of San Francisco and the Consulate General of France. Presented in association with the French Cultural Services, Consulate General of France and the French-American Cultural Foundation in San Francisco.

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