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Lost in Paris

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Jun 16, 2017
'Lost in Paris'
'Lost in Paris'  

Fiona Gordon and Dominique Abel write, direct, and star in a self-consciously strange comic adventure they've dubbed "Lost in Paris."

Gordon plays Fiona, a librarian comfortably ensconced in her snowbound Canadian village. About 50 years ago, she saw her Aunt Martha (Emmanuelle Riva), who was taken with the idea of moving to Paris to be a dancer. Now, upon getting a plea for help from the aged Martha -- who fears that she will be forced from her home and into an assisted living facility called "Les Alouettes" -- Fiona loads up her backpack, faces her uncertainties about the wider world, and heads off to the City of Light.

By the time Fiona gets there, though, Martha has gone missing. An accident causes Fiona to lose all her belongings, including money and passport. A misadventure with a red pepper leads a homeless man called Dom (Abel) to discover the lost items. The whimsical script, with its plot lines that loop and crisscross to create a net of happenstance, brings all three characters together. Also popping up in the story are Martha's perplexed neighbor, Mr. Martin (Philippe Martz), a Canadian Mountie called Bob (Frédéric Meert), a lover from long ago in Martha's past (Pierre Richard), and an unwitting clutch of mourners who find themselves the audience for an increasingly outrageous memorial.

The literal high point of the film is a scene atop the Eiffel Tower, but there are plenty of other locales for the absurd doings, such as a chic restaurant in a boat, a laundromat, a cemetery, and Dom's bright green tent, which is perched on the banks of the Seine.

Gordon and Abel display a sense of inventiveness not unlike what you might have seen in other French films, like "Amelie" and "City of Lost Children," though the production design here is, as a matter of aesthetic choice, far less involved. (In one charming touch we get a glimpse of Fiona's village as it grows over the years; the town is quite clearly a model.) The same sketch comedy vibe is at work here, perhaps even more so, given that "Lost in Paris" has a looser feel. The filmmakers also have a taste for dance scenes (there are two quite funny numbers) and the kind of story structure that overlaps scenes, so that what seems random the first time you see it is tied together and contextualized in a later repetition.

They also have a sure sense of the indecorous: In one cunningly constructed gag, Martha's neighbor, Mr. Martin -- whose fate seems forever tied to the vagaries of laundry -- is found by a policewoman going through Martha's underwear. He has a perfectly legitimate reason for it, but we don't see him trying to convince anyone; the film finds its comedy in just such moments, which tremble on the edge of fantasy or scandal.

Not so much a laugh-out-loud comedy as a keep-smiling-for-days farce, "Lost in Paris" seems sure to find a niche audience -- but a devoted one.

Lost in Paris

In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.


Runtime :: 85 mins
Release Date :: Jun 16, 2017
Language :: Silent
Country :: France

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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