Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Great Movie Scenes: Paris Je T'aime

Wendy and I just watched Paris Je T'Aime, a movie first recommended to me by Dug, who has a way of recommending movies that makes you feel like a philistine if you don't see the movie. To keep my liberal arts college degree valid, I saw the movie soon afterwards, and then I just saw it again on video. Dug was right. It's worth seeing. The movie consists of 18 vignettes set in Paris. Each short movie is about five minutes long and directed by a different person.

My favorite was the last segment about an American tourist who visits Paris by herself. I love the way the short movie plays with -- and against -- the Ugly American stereotype. Her accent is hilariously bad, and she seems to lack the sensibilities to appreciate French culture, as evidenced by her frumpy tourist outfit and her claim that she doesn't enjoy French food as the camera zooms in on a plate of half-eaten hamburger and french fries. Near the end of the segment, her narration becomes more lyrical as she describes a simple experience that makes Paris come alive for her. It's beautiful.

What I like most about the short movie is its approach to loneliness, which is surprisingly difficult for directors to capture without falling into cliché or pathos. This segment captures the melancholy resilience of someone living her life alone.