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Paris-Manhattan - Film Review

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by Alison Drew-Forster (subscribe)
Alison enjoys writing about all the great attractions Melbourne has to offer, and writing for her blog
Fall in love with Paris Manhattan

The word that springs to mind when thinking of the soon-to-be-released French movie Paris Manhattan is – 'lovely'.

A word perhaps overused in our modern language, but none the less the most fitting description of writer/director Sophie Lellouche's first feature film.

Listening to Ms Lellouche in her hesitant but delightful English talk about her movie, one is left with the distinct impression she is as charming and genuine as the characters she has brought to life.

The film is set in what Lellouche describes as the not so famous, and "less touristy", parts of her hometown of Paris. Indeed the city of Paris is, as Lellouche explains, "one of the stars of the show".

Lellouche tells how she dreamt of visiting Manhattan after watching Woody Allen's movie Manhattan, and that her hope is after people watch her movie, they will want to rush out and buy tickets to visit Paris.

The movie is probably best described as a romantic comedy, but being French, it has more substance than some of the Hollywood made fluff in the rom-com genre.

The story revolves around Alice, played by the beautiful and endearing Alice Taglioni, a single pharmacist in her 30's who as Lellouche describes is " a little clumsy with her femineity… Alice is optimistic, but deceived by life and by waiting for love".

Alice has been obsessed with Woody Allen and his movies since her teens, and not only adopts his philosophies as her guiding principle in life, but holds frequent, imaginary conversations with the life sized portrait of him hanging in her bedroom.

In her pharmacy, Alice often dispenses Allen movies to her patients instead of more traditional medicines, including in one memorable scene when she hands three movies to the young man who has just attempted to rob her at gunpoint.

Alice's quirky Jewish family include her father who is increasingly determined to find a suitor for Alice, and has taken to handing out her cards to prospective boyfriends.

One such suitor is Victor (Patrick Bruel), who is refreshingly down to earth if a little too honest at times. As Lellouche says, Victor is an optimist who believes we are here for a while and then we die, and he is fine with that.

Victor and Alice become friends, and spend time having fun together -engaging in the odd bit of espionage on members of Alice's family – while Alice seemingly falls in love with the man of her dreams, Vincent.

But as we learn, Alice's relationship with Vincent is a cliché of the ideal love affair she has been dreaming of for years.

The scenes between Alice and Vincent are filmed differently to the rest of the movie, as if they were in actors in an advertisement, rather than pictures of true love.

Lellouche deliberately filmed the scenes this way, to help viewers understand that true love is not something we can create in our minds; and part of Victor's role is to help Alice move outside her life in movies, so she can take her place in the real world.

Along the path of Alice's journey there are many enchanting moments. These include the aesthetic glimpses of this lesser known part of Paris, as well as from the humour generated by Alice's quirky personality, and her some-what eccentric family.

Lellouche admits she was like Alice when she was younger.

"When I was younger, I didn't have friends and people though I was weird because I didn't want to go out dancing, and didn't smoke, and wasn't interested in boys. I lived in my dreams and spent a lot of time at the movies. I thought Woody Allen would understand me and that if he were my friend, my life would be a lot better. And that is how the movie started".

It took Lellouche around six to seven years to write and then find support for the movie to be made.

We should all be grateful she persisted with her dream - this is one movie that lives up to the marketing hype of "summer's feel-great comedy".

For spending time in the company of Alice, Victor and Lellouche's Paris is indeed a lovely way to wile away time on a summer's day.

(Writer's Note: This review is written following a screening of Paris Manhattan by Palace Cinemas at Brighton Bay on Saturday 8th December, at the end of which Director Sophie Lellouche spoke of, and answered questions about, her movie. This was not a media screening and the writer attended as a member of the public).

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Why? A lovely movie that lives up to the hype
Where: Palace Cinemas nationally from 13 December 2012
Your Comment
Fantastic review - even though I've already seen the movie and loved every minute of it, I now want to go see it again - thank you for this review and behind the scenes view of the director's input
by canda (score: 0|2) 2164 days ago
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