Dans Paris **1/2
Directed by Christophe Honoré
Written by Christophe Honoré
Romain Duris as Paul
Louis Garrel as Jonathan
Joana Preiss as Anna
Alice Butaud as Alice
Guy Marchand as Mirko, la pere
93 Minutes(Not Rated-Nudity, Language)
"Dans Paris" has three great male leads at the helm, and this ends up being the shining star of the movie. There is Romain Duris-who has interested me before in leads like "Russian Dolls," "The Beat That My Heart Skipped," and last months "Moliere." There is Louis Garrel-who is new to me, but has had very prominent lead roles in films like "The Dreamers" and "Regular Lovers." And finally there is Guy Marchand-also new to me, and I have no films by him to reference. But the three of them-the first two brothers and the last the father-end up forming the heart and soul of "Dans Paris" mostly through their acting. The script, by writer and director Christophe Honoré, is another story, and there were many scenes that just did not work for me.
Duris plays Paul whose relationship with Anna has just been broken off. Heartbroken and depressed, Paul retreats to his family home with his brother Jonathan, and his father Mirko. Lonely and sad, Paul locks himself up in his bedroom and wants to sleep all day, only asking for the company of his sister Claire. Claire died seventeen years ago. His brother Jonathan is worried about him, and on December 23rd he says that he will go to Paris to see the windows decorated for Christmas, and if he gets there in thirty minutes or less, Paul will join him. He sets out and on the way ends up finding solace in the arms of three women-a woman on a bike that needs a quickie, an old girlfriend named Alice, and a woman that he meets when he arrives in Paris. Meanwhile their father sits at home running errands and putting up the Christmas tree, all the while worried about his sons-Paul because he may kill himself at any moment, and Jonathan because he is becoming selfish, vain, and only worries about himself.
For one thing, director Honoré really does take advantage of the title "Dans Paris," which translates to "Inside Paris." The images in the film are lush and beautiful and really make you want to take an overseas trip to France. There are moments where you are able to bask in the glory as Jonathan walks along the road. We can take in these landmarks and places for ourselves, and the imagery was some of the best material in the film. During the beginning, Garrel's character of Jonathan gives the viewer an introduction, saying that he will not reveal much-"I am an introduction, not a guided tour." Well, his walking around Paris was just like watching a guided tour, and I would have liked an audio tour to go with it. I also must once again commend Duris, Garrel and Marchand for their great performances. Duris and Garrel have their brotherly bond-they are able to share things with each other that others would know, and some of their conversations are simple to follow, but the two of them put a special magic in them that always has the viewer thinking that they are interfering with something they should not know about. Marchand looks over his sons with sadness-he loves them both but is fearful of them. He wants them to be happy and decent people, and from the looks of it that is turning out to not be the case.
Problems are the script, mostly. Many of the scenes do not work, and the first twenty minutes or so-where we see Paul's relationship with Anna-are dull and it seems to take forever for it to get going. Perhaps they wanted to show how much Anna meant to Paul, but I still could not see why he would get so upset over her. He did not even treat her well in the first place. Another scene between the two of them, where they sing over the phone, is tacky and just made me roll my eyes. Another thing that bugged me was the narration. Every now and then they would change to Garrel talking to the viewer about what is going on. He would change minor details in the story-like how hard he slammed the door after leaving the morning-or remind us that it is tacky to talk to the viewer. I can't see the point of this, and the narration does not even bookend the film. It only steps in every now and then. They should have edited that portion out.
It hurts to not be able to give "Dans Paris" a recommendation rating, because their was much to enjoy about it. See it for the great depiction of fathers, sons, and brothers, as well as the three pitch perfect lead roles. Do not see it if you are craving for a story or plot line that is worthy or unforgettable, because that is where "Dans Paris" seems to fail.