There is often something catching about the French movies (strictly by my own sampling). Perhaps it is only because the better ones become famous and become available to a wider non-french speaking audience, but the handful of French movies that I have come accross have been captivating.
I have written one post on the French trilogy Trois Couleurs (Three Colors)(http://slidingsands.blogspot.com/2007/05/trois-couleurs.html), a set of three very thought provoking movies. I recently watched another French movie called Amélie or Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (The Fabulous Life of Amélie Poulain), which was a comical and entertaining story of a mildly eccentric girl called Amélie Poulain. Almost all events in the movie are a comic exaggeration of the reality, from Amélie’s mother’s death, to her father’s belief in her troubled heart condition, to her meeting with her beloved and finally the coming together of everything. Each event underlines her isolation from normalcy and her semi-retirement to an imaginative world. It is a story which depicts the modern Parisian life by drawing a caricature of it – sometimes one of the most effective means to bring out traits.
Adding to my experience of cinéma français, last weekend I saw another French movie – the first one in the theatre – Paris, je t’aime (Paris, I love you). The film is an assortment of stories – 18 in all , each running for 5-10 minutes. Each story has been shot in a different administrative unit of Paris (called arrondissements) and has been written and directed by a different person. One would think that such a disconnected set of story could be exacting and become boring after a while – but in reality it was extremely interesting. Each story showed Paris in a different light. Surprisingly, most of the characters seemed to be immigrants to the city rather than native French. Probably it was done to give a diversity to people.
The central theme of the movie was love – and it was a different kind of love in each story – it was the love for a child, love for a wife, love for a father, love for an ex, love for a lover and love for self. The stories were witty, emotional, touching, crazy and simple in turns and though a couple of them did seem odd and unconnected, the overall collage was very pleasing and entertaining. Couple of my favorites were Pere Lachaise (the story of wit) and Faubourg Saint-Denis (the disintegrating love of an actress and a blind man).
The movie brought back wonderful memories of living in the city of Paris. This city was one of the very few places where I have lived alone with myself in a way. Nowhere else do I think I have walked alone for long hours, sat in a park alone sippling coffee listening to music or caught a sandwich and sat staring at a monument. I often remember it as the place where I lost my passport and struggled to get another one. But at the same time, it was also a place which I scanned by foot, by train and by buses, holding a map and sometimes giving up in exasperation. The only place where I got out of the train on impulse and roamed an unknown area, and felt so much with myself. The only place in which I actually lived the idyllic dream of reading a book on a park bench, near a pond, with my hair swaying away in the cool and soothing breeze.
I do love Paris, in a way.