"Paris je t'aime": moi non plus
Aha. Thanks to some excellent reporting from Kristin Hohenadel at the New York Times, it is revealed that what I sensed to be the compositional flaws of the film "Paris je t'aime" were in fact the result of collaborative disagreement between the film's co-producers.
Emmanuel Benbihy, who originally conceived the film, assembled twenty different short films, each set in a different arrondissement. Claudie Ossard (one of the producers behind "Amélie") was brought in "to plug the holes in the movie’s budget of 10 million euro[s]." Benbihy assembled the films with very little connective tissue between them; this method apparently being too subtle for Ossard, she hired Frédéric Auburtin (co-director, with Gérard Depardieu, of the Gena Rowlands scene in Le Rostand) to film more "Paris-y" shots of the city's monuments to shove in between the short films.
In my review of the film I proposed that the filler shots work if they are understood as an ironic commentary on the myth of Paris as the city of looooove and lights and romance. But it appears that I was too generous-- Ossard told the Times that “I thought it was important that we see Paris, as we don’t always see it very well in the stories, which take place in the Métro, in cafes and so on.”
As Ossard would have it, Paris is in the monuments, and not in the Métro. Well-- I disagree. The scene in the Métro was a pretty good approximation of Paris-- le vrai Paris-- as far as I know and love it.
Despite Ossard's best intentions to make the film more marketable, she doesn't succeed in undermining Benbihy's more sensitive juxtapositions. Love in Paris is not a monolithic, homogeneous ideal; like love anywhere, it's a palimpsest: layer over layer of stories and conflicts and dirt and desire and sex and need and bodily fluids. That ideal Paris, that superficial, hygenic Love in Paris, doesn't exist. And thank god. Can you think of anything less sexy?