Missy Schwartz
November 09, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

Paris, Je T'aime

Current Status
In Season
120 minutes
Limited Release Date
Steve Buscemi, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Gaspard Ulliel, Natalie Portman, Elijah Wood
Olivier Assayas, Frederic Auburtin, Emmanuel Benbihy, Gurinder Chadha, Sylvain Chomet, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Isabel Coixet, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuaron, Gerard Depardieu, Richard LaGravenese, Vincenzo Natali, Alexander Payne, Bruno Podalydes, Walter Salles, Oliver Schmitz, Nobuhiro Suwa, Daniela Thomas, Tom Tykwer, Gus Van Sant
First Look
Emmanuel Benbihy

We gave it a B+

Calling Paris the City of Love is one of the most wearisome clichés on earth. But in the 18 shorts that make up Paris, Je T’aime (R, 110 mins., 2007), a who’s who of international filmmakers twist, turn, and redefine that tired old notion, offering a fresh view of a modern metropolis filled with, oui, romance — but also loneliness, heartache, grief, and (thankfully) humor. In the Coen brothers’ hilariously manic segment, Steve Buscemi gets roughed up by a hooligan while waiting for the subway. (”We like beating Steve up,” Joel Coen explains in a featurette. ”We’ve done it many times.”) Horror master Wes Craven sets his snapshot, fittingly, in the famous Père-Lachaise cemetery, populating it not with ghouls, but rather a bourgeois couple (Emily Mortimer, Rufus Sewell) bickering at Oscar Wilde’s grave. In a cheeky twist, director Alexander Payne plays the dapper ghost of Wilde. But Payne’s true shining moment is his own short, in which a solitary American tourist (Margo Martindale) experiences a spiritual awakening over a baguette sandwich. It’s the movie’s final chapter, and it’s simply brilliant. EXTRAS Each short has its own behind-the-scenes featurette — much of which is recycled in the doc ”At the Heart of Paris, Je T’Aime.” On this two-disc, so-called collector’s edition, that sure feels like a cheat. B+

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