One of my favorite favorite favorite movies is Paris, je t’aime. It’s the first movie in the Cities of Love project that was created by Emmanual Benbihy, a Parisian film producer. It’s a collection of 18 scenes, each one directed by a different directer including the Cohen Brothers, Wes Craven and 19 other fantastic directors. The cast is made up of some pretty incredible people too: Willem Defoe, Steve Buscemi, Elijah Wood and Natalie Portman just to name a few.
Each one’s theme is, as one could guess, love and showcases all the kinds of love. Some are funny or ironic, most will just tear your heart out; each one, amazing. Each is set in a different arrondissement in Paris. I know nothing I can say will do justice to any of these pieces of beautiful perfection, but I would like to share a few of my personal favorite vignettes.
Le Marais – Directed by Gus Van Sant – It’s so frustrating! Gaspard Ulliel enters a paint/print shoppe and is instantly drawn to the shop worker, Elias McConnell. He’s expressing some of the most beautiful sentiments and telling the shop worker how he believes they are soul mates. The shop worker, however, speaks very little French. I cried.
Bastille – Directed by Isabel Coixet – Sergio Castellitto is a straying husband, with a younger lover, who finds out his wife, Miranda Richardson, is terminally ill. Instead of leaving his wife, as he had planned to do, he stays with her. You feel the guilt, sadness and love all emanating from this man for his beloved wife. In her better years she had always donned a red trench coat that he always thought was a bit silly. After her passing, as he wanders through life in sadness, his “heart stops every time he sees a woman in a red trench coat.” -I full on weep through out this one and it is my favorite scene out of all of them.
Quartier des Enfants Rouges – Directed by Olivier Assayas – Maggie Gyllenhal plays an American actress filming in Paris who enjoys herself some strong hashish. Her regular dealer, Ken, played by Lionel Dray, is very much drawn to her. As she pulls cash from an ATM he runs his hand along her back without touching her. She is aloof and somewhat rushed to return to the party she was attending but they exchange numbers when he asks if he could watch on the set. Later, when she calls for a re-up and to invite him over (she is now feeling attracted to him as well), she is disappointed when Ken sends a friend to deliver her goods.
Pigalle – Directed by Richard LaGravenese – Bob Hoskins (who I ♥) and Fanny Ardant go back and forth between dissatisfaction, disappointment and true love and adoration starting in a strip club and continuing home. It’s so adorable!
Pere-Lachaise – Directed by Wes Craven – A soon to be married couple tour Le Pere Lachaise where their relationship could end when Emily Mortimer says she can’t go through with marrying Rufus Sewell due to his lack of sense of humor and understanding the Importance of Being Funny/Fun upon the grave of Oscar Wilde. When she runs off and he trips and hits his head upon the grave, Oscar Wilde assists the man in stopping his fiance from leaving him forever. -It’s one of my favorites of the favorites.
The last of the 18 scenes is
14E Arrondissement – Directed by Alexander Payne – An American tourist, Margo Martindale, describes, in her newly learned French, what she loves about Paris and it will bring you to tears… again.
It’s just simply a fantastic film. Each scene is powerful and committed and leaves you feeling something. I haven’t gotten a chance to see it yet, but I’m excited to watch the next installment in the series New York, I Love You. Because, God Damn it, I do!