Film Review – Paris, Je T’aime

Paris, Je T’aime      2 stars
Starring Ben Gazzara, Bob Hoskins, Elijah Wood, Emily Mortimer and Fanny Ardant. Directed by Frederic Auburtin, Emmanuel Benbihy, Alfonso Cuarón, etc. Released by First Look Pictures. Rated R; 2:00.

    Looking at the advertising for “Paris, Je T’aime,” I expected a movie version of a Parisian vacation guide; the trailer has more twee French clichés than the Epcot Center on Bastille Day.  

    Thankfully, the movie is smarter than the advertisers let on, albeit not always. As an anthology of loosely connected shorts about the city (each story is by a different director about a different neighborhood), “Paris, Je T’aime” has a few gems. Most of the movie, though, is nothing to write home about.  

    Sylvain Chomet, the director of the wonderful anti-globalization cartoon “The Triplettes of Belleville,” gives us a film about a mime in love. Personally, I hate mimes (and I would prefer they don’t reproduce), but the real ugliness of the story is a scene where the protagonist makes fun of some fat Americans. Yes, har har, very funny, Mr. Chomet. I get it. We’re fat. You’re a regular comic genius.  

    When you get enough directors together, such crap is to be expected. I was more disappointed that some very good, mime-less directors had absolutely nothing to say. The Coen Brothers give us an amusing but rather uninspired comedy short about a tourist upsetting some local customs. Tom Tykwer’s (“Run Lola Run”) time-lapse love story seems like a trailer for a better movie. And Alfonso Cuarón (“Children of Men”) reiterates his love for long, uninterrupted takes, even when he doesn’t have much to put in them.

    Wes Craven, Olivier Assayas, Frédéric Auburtin, Gérard Depardieu and particularly Alexander Payne turn in great work, but there’s not quite enough of it to turn the tide of the film. And anyway, it’s all stuff that will be on YouTube in a month.

    “City of Lights”? This is more “Mistake by the Lake.”