Having explored Barcelona in Pot Luck and St Petersburg and London in Russian Dolls, writer/director Cedric Klapisch comes back to the French capital with this sentimental ‘choral’ drama. Romain Duris, Klapisch’s perennial leading man, plays cabaret dancer Pierre, who quits work when he discovers he has a potentially fatal heart disease requiring a transplant. His social worker sister Elise (Juliette Binoche) and her three young children move in to his apartment to help look after Pierre, while he begins to reconsider his life’s priorities.
Klapisch has always favoured ensemble films and Paris is no exception, its intersecting storylines involving characters whom Elise and Pierre encounter from different milieux and social classes: stall-holders at the local market, a university history professor Roland (Fabrice Luchini) besotted by a young female student (Melanie Laurent), Roland’s architect brother (François Cluzet) and a Cameroonian immigrant.
If anything, the filmmaker crams in too many sub-plots, flitting between the experiences of his fictional creations, and various strands, such as the May-December romance, fail to ring true. In attempting to contrast visually the old and the new, Klapisch offers up a tourist-friendly view of the City of Lights, including such familiar landmarks as the Eiffel Tower, Pere Lachaise cemetery, the Moulin Rouge and Montmartre’s Sacre-Coeur. Much inferior to Klapisch’s earlier paen to Paris, When the Cat’s Away.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 25 Jul.