Friday, March 20, 2009

Paris, Je T'aime

In English, Love is a word that encompasses a wide range of topics. The Greeks had several words for love. Agape indicated affection, while Eros pointed toward a more intimate and passionate love. Philia (where the name Philadelphia derives from) suggests virtuous love or friendship. Storge describes the type of natural love that family members have for one another. Thelema means desire or will of the flesh. These descriptive words indicate the importance of the many definitions for the single word we use today. Love. Amore. Paris, Je T'aime employs the many facets of love to tell several short stories centered in the City of Love...Paris.

I generally prefer tightly woven plots with distinct direction. Paris, Je T'aime departs from the orderly structured storyline that I generally prefer. Using the concept of love, this film loosely ties together several vignettes into an non-cohesive but enjoyable film. Rather than being a single story, Paris, Je T'aime tells several unrelated stories which are weakly tied together at the end. Some of the stories are neatly packaged well produced snippets while others left me feeling a bit uncertain. Using the idea of demonstrating many different aspects of love, this film managed to succeed artistically in spite of the lack of cohesion between story lines. Taken at its face, this a set of short stories with a common theme and nothing more.

When you consider that Paris, Je T'aime contains several independent stories rather than a single plot, it becomes more difficult to judge the film as a whole. While some of the vignettes were satisfying, others were rather lame and could probably have been left out. The style of the directing also changes from segment to segment because Paris, Je T'aime was produced by 22 different Directors. Normally, too many cooks spoil the broth. However, this film was not a collaboration, but rather a set of individual tales. With each storyline being produced by a different Director, the flavor of the stories changed a little, but the concept worked.

Paris, Je T'aime takes place in several different neighborhoods around Paris (and of course, one in the Metro for good measure). The stories cover a variety of cultures with sub-titling for several languages, not just French. While some of the stories are humorous, others attempt to be poignant within a very tight time frame. The sketches cover a variety of circumstances which also brings an element of interest to the film. A guessing game of sorts. What type of love does this segment explore? Love that has been lost, love that has been found, searching for love, finding love in a place, or simply loving the place you are in. The variety of styles, topics, cultures and love concepts provides a rich examination of the human experience. That really boils down the essence of this film.

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