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(poster from Wikipedia)

This is one of the gems of the 2007 Cinemanila Film Festival. I first came across this film at apple.com/trailers. Obviously, it was the setting that caught my attention. What held it and made me really want to watch the film was its concept – 18 short stories, 1 for every district (arrondissement) of Paris. Paris actually has 20 districts, but two of the stories fell through so only 18 were shot. It has an ensemble cast combining Hollywood and foreign actors, and writers and directors that include Gus van Sant, Alfonso Cuaron, Wes Craven, Gerard Depardieu and Gena Rowlands (who also star in the episode that they directed and wrote, respectively).

I won’t give away the stories, but here are my favorite episodes: Tuileries – for a bit of slapstick comedy that is actually funny; Bastille – mature romantic drama; Tour Eiffel – funny story about mimes; Quartier de la Madeleine – one of the best (and most applauded during the screening) episodes and Elijah Wood was great without saying a single word (actually, the entire episode has no dialogue); Père-Lachaise – miscommunication comedy involving two guys, one of which is gay; Fauborg Saint-Denis – heartwarming romance without the cheesiness (and guys will love Natalie Portman who’s really gorgeous here 😉 ); and Quartier Latin – great scriptwriting by Gena Rowlands.

I have mixed feelings about the last episode, 14e arrondissement. I liked it until shortly towards the end, where it appeared to lose steam; and the ending was just cheesy and quite forced. And they could have done without the last scenes of the film, where they showed the connection between some of the characters of the different episodes in an attempt to tie the whole thing together. Shades of Love Actually there, but at least it was one whole, connected movie.

I liked the movie as a whole, minor disappointments aside. I recommend this film, and I will definitely get the DVD.

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