Paris is Unwieldy

A French film by Elizabeth Vogler, Paris is Us follows a young Parisian woman and her long-time beau, from a rapturous meet-cute at a rave club to the ups and downs of their long-term courtship. Many scenes literally follow them along beaches and cobblestones, Vogler’s camera floating above them or behind them like a voyeuristic traveler. Beautiful to look at, but lacking in true character or much of anything to say, the film is desperate for meaning and profundity, often evoking the worst of latter-day Terrence Malick through constant voice-over and a wide-angle lens. Comparisons to the mercurial filmmaker are hard to ignore, with Vogler at more than one point aping a shot or two of silhouettes from Tree of Life. Captivating though she is, Noemie Schmidt is undone by faux-poetic dialogue and an underwritten lead role, a woman whose relationship seems to be mimicking the social tensions and political upheaval around her. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Who knows, what with airplanes falling and random metaphors a-calling. Despite pretentious gobbledygook, Vogler’s photography, so visceral and immediate, goes a long way toward keeping her film from the precipice.

Grade: C

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