Film

Je Heart Paris

And So Does Everybody Else

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Paris has gotten more valentines than any other city in the world. The reasons are obvious: It's beautiful, and it makes people want to be in love. So the impulse behind Paris, Je T'Aime is nothing new—the results, though, are as stunning and varied as the city itself.

Paris is comprised of 18 five-minute films, unrelated save that they are each set in a different Paris neighborhood. If sitting through 18 short films sounds tedious, consider the talent involved: Alfonso Cuarón, the Coen Brothers, and Alexander Payne are among the directors, and actors include Steve Buscemi, Fanny Ardant, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Juliette Binoche (and yes, Gérard Depardieu is in it).

The first three films are lackluster, including an uninspired Gus Van Sant contribution, but things steadily and drastically improve after the 15-minute mark. The funniest of the bunch is Sylvain Chomet's Tour Eiffel, a love story between two mimes that cleverly riffs on the city's distinctive iconography. Pére-Lachaise, home of the famous cemetery, was a logical neighborhood choice for Wes Craven—yet Craven sidesteps his genre and instead turns in a sweet, Oscar Wilde-inspired love story. The Coen Brothers' Tuileries presents Steve Buscemi as the ultimate hapless tourist, while Tom Tykwer's Faubourg Saint-Denis, starring Natalie Portman, sums up an entire relationship in five beautiful, breakneck minutes. The film ends with Alexander Payne's poignant contribution: In touchingly terrible French, a middle-aged American describes her recent trip to Paris, exploring the streets and wishing she had someone to share it with.

Even if there's no amour lost between you and Paris (I hear some people don't like the French?), Paris, Je T'Aime is worth seeing: The films included range from hilarious to heartbreaking, and together they capture the expansiveness and excitement of being alive and in love with a city.

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