02 December 2008

C’est déjà décembre?

I saw a movie Sunday that somehow captured a lot of the sentiments that I am feeling about Paris at this moment. The movie was, appropriately, entitled Paris, and I had been jonesing to see it since it came out in February.

Considering the rarity of French cinematic success aux Etats-Unis and the significant time lag usually associated with the eventual appearance of French films in the States (voir Ne le dis à personne [Tell No One] which came out in 2006 but just hit American theaters this summer), I assumed I would have to wait to see it until it eventually made it to DVD. Luckily, the film’s star, Juliette Binoche, is currently being honored with a retrospective at La Cinémathèque française. Donc, I marked the date of the film in my agenda the moment I saw it on the schedule and made sure to make it to the séance [showing].

Directed by Cédric Klapisch (L’Auberge espagnole [The Spanish Apartment]), the film featured his classic fractured visuals of city life and intimate stories of la vie quotidienne [daily life] of insecure and flawed human beings. Among a fairly small pantheon of contemporary French filmmakers, Klapisch has a style and flair that can make the occasionally difficult subject matter that he treats palatable, pleasurable and even funny.

He displayed his mastery of this craft perfectly in Paris. The film revolves around a number of tragically unlikeable Parisians with the central story focusing on a young man in need of a heart transplant – a procedure which he has only a 40 percent chance of surviving.

For me, the film touched perfectly on the fleetingness of Parisian city life. It represented all-too-accurately a number of Parisian tropes that I have encountered on a daily basis and revealed stunning panoramas of the city with the same attention to detail as the bustling city streets and open-air markets.

Likewise, Klapisch captured the contradiction of feeling lonely and isolated in such a vibrant and vivante [living] city. His characters were connected, yet distant with but the smallest details of living in the same city connecting them. So close, but so far.

Lastly, it may be somewhat infantile – meme si c’est [even if it’s] entirely natural – to attempt to apply the life lessons learned from the gravity of the situations within the film to my own severely less grave life, but the film’s ever-present (but certainly not trop [too] heavy-handed) carpe diem sentiment reminded me to make the most of my short time in this city.

The last few days I’ve been glued to my room cranking out two exposés [presentations], but now that those have both been delivered, it’s time to explore Paris anew.

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