Paris Is Us is a subtle, profound piece of cinema with real heart and contagious sentiment.
Paris Is Us has evolved from its early crowd-funded origins into an elegant feature depicting and exploring the obscurities that rear themselves in times of uncertainty. Telling the story of a young couple as they try to navigate their youthful potential, Paris Is Us explores themes of pressure, social norms and the fear of not being present. After a turbulent first love, Anna and Greg find themselves fighting frequently about what the future holds for them. After agreeing not to move to Barcelona in a bid for a new life Anna and Greg discover the plane they were due to board crashed with no survivors. This near miss causes two very different reactions, with Greg taking it as a sign to live and Anna feeling an inescapable pressure to be grateful and act so in a world she feels she doesn’t belong in.
Paris Is Us was filmed over a three-year period, and this lengthy project pays off in the most inspirational way. Over the three years of filming the movie has clearly evolved in setting, as the political climate in Paris was filled with uncertainty. France becomes a living border, setting the stage as it mirrors and surrounds the turmoil of the protagonists. If you look back into the history of the project’s Kickstarter page anyone can see that Paris Is Us is a perfect example of how passion and the desire to create can lead to beautiful pieces of entertainment even when working with minimal resources. The cinematography must be mentioned, as I was frequently blown away by the imagery and collage style layers ever present, and that work as visual metaphors juxtaposed to represent the proximity of internal thoughts and external reality.
Anna is played by Swiss actress Noémie Schmidt, best know for her role as Henriette in BBC hit show Versailles. Schmidt plays a very distant Anna as she fights to challenge the assumptions of the world around her. Schmidt is profoundly natural and relatable in her portrayal of Anna. Lost and without direction, Schmidt’s performance evokes great feelings of empathy, as most, if not all can slip into Anna’s feelings of walking a directionless path. Anna’s first love Greg is played by less known Grégoire Isvarine, still fresh-faced in the light of movie experience. Isvarine’s character encourages a different kind of empathy, in the form of our desires to always be better, to move forward, to feel of value to the world. Working alongside Schmidt, Isvarine demonstrates a performance worthy of recognition, given his experience and successful venture into film, Isvarine shows incredible potential for future big screen projects. Both Schmidt and Isvarine work in harmony to sell the aesthetic of young love and the intricacies of being completely dependant on someone.
Paris Is Us explores engaging themes of loneliness, potential and inevitable fickleness of what it means to live. Anna’s character demonstrates the psyche of a person who lives without direction, without a plan, and doesn’t intend to conform to the path of the norm. Anna and Greg are shown to represent conflicting reactions to the realization that you only live one life. Greg wants to take the ‘go for your goals you only live once’ approach, aching to improve himself, be promoted and work hard to achieve his lifelong wishes. Anna, on the other hand, reacts by yearning to live in the moment, not to worry about the future and take hold of the people she loves whilst she still can. This juxtaposition leads to some life-affirming philosophical conversations in which the audience get to be privy to the secrets and desires only saved for those close to us.
Paris Is Us sells a sense of exclusivity that can be felt throughout the entire movie as the film is remarkable at keeping the audience grounded only to the present realities of the protagonists. No time is wasted on third party characters, the audience gets to experience this deep entanglement the couple share completely. Through intimate cinematography and clever use of cutaways to scenes such as shadows and reflections, the audience seldom catches a clear glimpse into the lives of other people. Paris Is Us provides a short escape into the arms of a limited reality, one where we don’t feel any responsibility to take notice of the history being made around us.
Paris Is Us is heartwarming and incredibly prominent; it reminds audiences that nothing lasts forever. Paris Is Us is an insight to the predictability of the universe where things come to an end, life isn’t always long, and no matter how dark your reality seems it’s always temporary. The movie also shatters the rose-tinted glasses worn by those experiencing their first love, leaving audiences conflicted in thought as we fight with ourselves to support the ‘live in the moment’ vs ‘plan for the future’ mindset. I loved Paris Is Us from start to finish, the heart, the desperation, and uncertainty that was sewn throughout is all too familiar as we try to forge our own paths in the journey of life.