"Is it possible for a love story to make us jump off a bridge?" It's a meaningful query posed at the start of Christophe Honor/'s Dans Paris. Immediately striking is its suicidal notion, prejudicing the viewer into thinking the film a downer. The words "love story," however, are key. Though depression manipulates Dans Paris, it is not necessarily a depressing film.
In fact, it is quite the oppositean affirming, amusing and often musical look at a family struggling to connect with others and each other, told with startling flair. The film details the emotional chaos that results when Paul (Romain Duris) ends a volatile long-term relationship. Having left Paris to live with his love in the countryside, he returns after the break-up to bunk with his father and younger brother in their apartment in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. The structure looms over everything, but its beauty cannot prevent Paul's confused despair from taking its toll on the family. The ways in which the brothers deal with the gloom provide Dans Paris' life, with direction and tone switching for each. Paul's self-reflective wallowing is slow and studied. Conversely, free-and-easy brother Jonathan's escape via sexual exploits around Paris shoots light, kinetic life reminiscent of the French New Wave into the film. Actor Louis Garrel even resembles actor Jean-Pierre L/aud, the New Wave personification in Truffaut's classics. Duris is excellent as the sensitive lead, but Garrel is the pulse, delivering a nuanced performance that is simultaneously well-meaning and childlike, manipulative and seductive. The actors' differences play off each other well, but melt into one when they converge, creating a mutual caring and understanding that only siblings share. It's a bond that anyone with a close brother or sister will instantly recognize, and replicating such moments is a testament to each actor's skill. (Phil Morehart) Grade: A