Émilie (Zhang) and Camille (Samba) are in love. Émilie and Camille are not in love. Camille falls in love with Émilie, and she doesn’t want to. Émilie is in love with Camille, but he doesn’t love her back. Émilie and Camille are ex-lovers who can’t get out of each other’s orbit. It all depends when you see their very average but still fascinating relationship, the instigator arc of Jacques Audiard Paris, District 13and their intersections with a growing population of characters.
The stories told here are nothing out of the ordinary. Instead, Audiard seeks modern banality in its journey through the young professionals of the 13th arrondissement of Paris, more specifically the neighborhoods around the Olympiades (original French title of the film), one of the most invigorating and trendiest in town. Like those of 2012 rust and bone, Audiard builds a unique narrative from unrelated short stories by a North American author: in the previous film, it was two short stories by Craig Davidson taken from his anthology of the same name, and now adapting several works from the American comic artist Adrian Tomine. Probably also famous for his New Yorker covers as for its illustrated narration, full of characters burdened with disaffected self-analysis, Audiard transplants its stories from the United States, arguably keeping their flavor but not necessarily giving them the structure they need to truly flourish. as a single story.
Paris, 13th arrondissement it feels like he wants to be part of a tradition of emotionally and sexually blunt dramas that run through David Mamet sexual perversity in chicago and Patrick Marber Closer (there’s even a central plot element triggered by a wig). Zhang and Samba are often fascinating as two failed fuckbuddies, never quite in the same place emotionally with each other, but Audiard decides to confuse the issue by introducing Merlant (Portrait of a lady on fire) as Nora, a recent transplant in Paris whose life is complicated and scarred when she is mistaken by her college classmates for a famous cam girl. These segments, loosely adapted from Tomine’s “Amber Sweet,” look like the setup of a real anthology approach, but it’s more of a long, looping storyline that increasingly intersects and replaces the rocky relationship. and often unromantic of Emilie and Camille. It’s also weirdly fantastic and inevitably works better on the page than it does on screen, if only because it implausibly depends on Nora being easily mistaken for the real Amber (Beth, of British rock band Savages) .
Audiard undoubtedly has an eye for the small details of relationships, and also of the 13th arrondissement, one of the most diverse and vibrant communities in Paris. Paul Guilhaume’s silver cinematography captures everything in a gorgeous gray palette, his black-and-white vision making the flesh supple and supple through the series of erotic encounters – some playful, some emotional, some tinged with tragedy and despair. However, the moments never quite become a whole, in particular because of the disjunction between the stories of Émilie and Camille, and of Camille and Nora. Perhaps it’s an attempt to fix the flaws of the classic rom-com trope of “the other girlfriend,” a character introduced to add a little wrinkle to the central romance of so many movies, giving it a real agency: Yet this also means that Paris, 13th arrondissement never quite provides reason enough to put two of Tomine’s stories together.