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Paris, 13th District

Farhad Dalal
By-
Farhad Dalal
Rating
4 Star popcorn reviewss

Introduction

After a small break yesterday, I am back with another review. In keeping up with some of the International films, I was doing some research to build on my watchlist. And I came across a post from Anurag Kashyap who by now you know is my favourite director, and so I really look forward to his recommendations too. In his post, he had mentioned about a French film Paris 13th District which he had regarded as “one of his favourites from last year”. On digging in deeper, I got to know that the film had premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year in 2021. The film had just premiered on Mubi and with that I decided to give this film a go! And I finished watching Paris 13th District on Mubi last night, is it worth your time, stay tuned.

Story & Screenplay

Paris 13th District is the story of three girls and a boy who are friends, sometimes lovers and sometimes both. The story almost unfolds in a slice of life manner and it explores the tenderness and vulnerabilities of a modern day relationship. The screenplay standing at just 100 minutes is taut and the drama is light, tactfully exploring the complexities of a relationship without getting too melodramatic. The first thing that catches your eye is the intimate monochrome setting which almost is like life which is grey for everyone. The drama unfolds almost in the form of chapters where you are introduced to the protagonists one by one. Through a series of s*xual encounters, you are able to explore their psyche even more.

The drama is layered and very subtle in its storytelling technique. It would give you an impression that there is not enough material or story to it. But if you look closely, the trajectory of various relationships is handled in such a delicate manner with emotions of jealousy, attachment and resentment nicely sprinkled in. Some of the subplots are crucial in understanding the “other” relations as well. The drama is also willing you go as deep as you allow it to, without trying to drive home a point. This ends in a subtle and nuanced ending which is tender and warm summing up a brilliant screenplay which is as light as a feather.

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are conversational but the subtle nuances in between lines is what creates an impact. The BGM is beautiful and it slowly manages to seep into your soul through your heart. The cinematography coupled by the monochrome setting just adds a nice little ambience to the drama. Director Jacques Audiard does a splendid job in meticulously handling a delicate subject in the most deft manner!

Performances

The performances are exquisite here. Jehnny Beth as Amber really creates a stirring impact. Noemie Merlant as Nora looks very pretty and is well restrained. She has to internalize a lot of her emotions and she displays tremendous range in a lovely character arc. Lucie Zhang as Emilie delivers a subtle and nuanced performance. Makita Samba as Camille has a lovely screen presence and he represents the confused state of adulthood here. His character is the most real and he delivers a stupendous performance.

Conclusion

Paris 13th District is a layered, complex and textured drama which is well worth your time. Available on Mubi and Highly Recommended.

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