Imitation remains the sincerest form of flattery, and keen viewers can pick out plentiful nouvelle vague references in Christophe Honoré’s story of a depressed photographer (Duris) who moves back in with his family. The chapeau-tipping is in plain sight: A singsong phone conversation is pure Demy, the jazzy score could have been lifted from an early Malle movie, and several talky street scenes scream Céline and Julie–era Rivette. And dig those jagged jump cuts, the commentary on narrative discrepancies from the hero’s brother (Garrel) and that scene in which an estranged girlfriend (Preiss) dances at length to a pop tune. Do any of these stylistic idiosyncrasies ring a bell?
To be fair, the younger director isn’t the first to borrow extensively from Godard and the rest of his gang’s grab bag of tricks, nor is he the worst. Despite the protagonist’s petulant wallowing in despair, Dans Paris is characterized by a joyous, breezy brio that’s a pleasant switch from the psychosexual nipple-twisting of Honoré’s Georges Bataille adaptation, Ma mère (2004). But there’s not much besides tributes and diversions here; now that the talented filmmaker has paid homage to French cinema’s illustrious past, maybe he can turn toward giving it a fruitful future.
Cast and crew
Judith El Zein
Lou Rambert Preiss