They chuck learned quotes from Pascal and Flaubert at one another, while swooning over obscure Russian movies. Welcome to the world of film students at Paris 8 uni, where no one actually wears a beret, but they smoke a lot, knock back copious amounts of red wine and sleep around, all in chic black and white. Pretentious, nous? Well, absolutely, but that’s the point of this expansive coming-of-age drama from writer-director Jean-Paul Civeyrac, who knows what’s he’s talking about since he teaches at one of Paris’s top film schools.
From that brief description you’ll already know whether this sounds indescribably up itself, or a deliciously Gallic survey of a would-be artist’s formative years. It takes itself all very seriously, but ‘A Paris Education’ has strong insights into the vulnerability of lanky Lyonnais new arrival Etienne (newcomer Andranic Manet, spot-on), who comes under the potentially destructive influence of an opinionated film snob (Corentin Fila), whose supposedly wonderful films no one, of course, has ever seen.
There’s a lot of pensive chat about why you’d even want to make films when the world’s obviously falling apart, and while much of the action feels hermetically timeless to a counter-productive extent, we do cumulatively get drawn into Etienne’s unfolding intellectual micro-crises. It may not have quite the emotional impact of similarly themed titles like Olivier Assayas’s ‘Late August, Early September’ or Mia Hansen-Løve’s ‘Eden’, yet the film’s quiet sincerity, and unfashionable lack of irony, make a proud statement in their own right.