When male dancer at the Moulin Rouge, Pierre (Romain Duris), is diagnosed with a serious heart condition that, even with a transplant, could end his life, he takes stock of his surroundings. He calls his not-so-close sister (Juliette Binoche), and tries to find a way of coping with the possibility of life ending. Meanwhile, all around him, Parisians are getting on with their lives, working and loving, and sometimes dying, too. And as Pierre waits for a suitable donor, many of these lives intersect around him, each with its own triumphs and failures, pain and joy. It's only when he finally makes his way by taxi across Paris to the hospital for the operation that he really sees the city as a thriving, vibrant, life affirming entity.

Filled with good humour and genuine emotion.

Making a multi-story film about love and calling it Paris, risks being as clichéd as putting a beret on a baguette. But Cedric Klapisch has taken that gamble, and the big surprise is how fresh his film feels.

With almost as many characters as Paris has arrondissements, this film radiates outwards from Pierre, a young dancer who’s desperately sick and in need of a heart transplant. Elise, his lovelorn sister and a single mother, comes to look after him, re-invigorating their testy relationship.

Elsewhere, middle-aged historian Roland becomes mired in an infatuation with gorgeous young student Letitia, while his brother Phillip deals with nerves about the birth of his first child.

Then, at the market, there’s grocer Franky, who’s trying to ignore the new love interests of his ex-girlfriend, while he himself flirts with Elise.

Paris sounds complicated but Cedric Klapisch makes most of the parts fit together smoothly, and with good humour and genuine emotion.

Pierre’s literally broken heart sounds like heavy-handed metaphor but the possible impending tragedy makes many of the film’s moments that much sweeter.

As Pierre, Romain Duris again proves his mastery in portraying fragile masculinity, and he and Juliette Binoche spark wonderfully. As historian Roland, Fabrice Luchini is hilarious and touching. And you can see why he’s hooked on Letitia because Melanie Laurent is mesmerisingly beautiful and charming.

Paris does suffer the usual weakness found in portmanteau films in that some stories are stronger than others. Here the tale of Benoit making his way illegally to France from Cameroon, is short-changed, while some of the romantic antics at the market also feel tacked-on. These less interesting tales stretch the film to 130 minutes but never detract from the heart of the film.

As a portrait of a city – and a universal emotional state – Paris is definitely worth a visit and rates three and a half stars.

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2 hours 10 min
In Cinemas 01 January 1970,
Thu, 01/01/1970 - 20