Paris, Je T'AimeAdvertising “Stories of Love From the City of Love,” the promoters of Paris, Je T’aime have actually done more than create a clever selling point: they’ve summarized this film as succinctly as possible. With 20 distinctly-styled directors and a slew of stunning stars, Paris Je T’aime is the ultimate compilation of short love stories. But that’s not all; each film features a different cast exploring a new aspect of love… set in a different area of the city.

Combining their talents, these filmmakers have created almost two hours of beautiful, distinct shorts: an opus in 18 six to seven minute movements. It’s difficult to describe the experience of sitting down to such a smorgasbord of well-produced shorts involving familiar faces and directing styles. Each story is a world unto itself. Imagine a classroom where the teacher, creator Tristan Carne, says, “Today, we’re going to cover different aspects of love: Gus, you get attraction, Joel & Ethan, you take jealousy, oooh Gerard, you get divorce…” and so on and so on, until a collection of homework assignments are turned in to produce the final class project.

And a worthy project it is. Though each story has it’s own redeeming qualities, a few stand out for their own reasons. Under the direction of Alexander Payne, Margo Martindale, as a single postal worker from Denver on a solo vacation in Paris, creates the subtlest and most endearing character of the film, while Vincenzo Natali’s comic book vampire tale starring Elijah Wood is visually stunning and everything but subtle. Geman director Tom Tykwer (Run, Lola, Run) utilizes Natalie Portman’s captivating presence, along with beautiful, time-lapse shots of the city, to create a surprisingly sweet exploration of a relationship.

Only Wes Craven’s homage to Oscar Wilde, starring Rufus Sewel and Emily Mortimer as a feuding couple, feels a little flat, with an unmemorable Alexander Payne appearing as Wilde’s ghost for a few brief scenes. Steve Buscemi gets beat up, Nick Nolte seems more ragged than he has in a while, Maggie Gyllenhaal shows off her French, Catalina Sandino Moreno reprises her Maria Full of Grace stoicism, Juliette Binoche weeps for her departed son… the list goes on. For anyone with a penchant for love, accessible foreign films or being pleasantly surprised, Paris Je T’aime is a delightful treat.

Zach’s Rating: A-
Perfect For: A bottle of wine and a visual feast of love, the streets of Paris and 20 brilliant filmmakers
Stay Away if: You don’t want to spend all night reading subtitles and trying to figure out who all these new characters are

To purchase Paris, Je T’aime (available 10/13/2007), visit Amazon
For more information and to view a trailer, visit the film’s homepage

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