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professors get all the cute chicks...

professors get all the cute chicks...

This movie is in French, with English subtitles.


Juliette Binoche, Romain Duris, Fabrice Luchini

Pierre: What blows my mind most is looking out the window.
Elise: Meaning…?
Pierre: I watch other people live.  I wonder who they are…where they go.  They become the heroes of my little stories.  I like that.

Pierre (Duris) learns that he has a potentially fatal heart problem, and his single-mom sister Elise (Binoche) comes to stay with him.  Meanwhile, in other loosely connected stories, various characters deal with love, loss, and loneliness amid the streets of Paris.

Paris is usually over-romanticized in movies, but in this one, it seemed to look a little bit different to me.  More realistic, run down, and old, yet still beautiful.  We see old, classic architecture, but there’s also new, more modern, buildings under construction.  I’m sure this is meant to echo the various attitudes of the characters, like the brothers Phillipe and Roland.  One is a married architect, expecting his first child, and working on those new buildings.  Meanwhile, the other, Roland, is single and obsessed with the history of Paris.  But soon, his eye is caught by a much younger student in his class, played by Mélanie Laurent (recently seen in Inglourious Basterds), and his focus starts to shift from old to new.

That’s just one example of the various stories that are told throughout the movie.  We see the stories that Pierre can only imagine as he looks from his window at the people outside.  He dreams of being able to reconnect with society like that, rather than being stuck at home, weakened by his condition.  In his pain, he has the more romanticized vision of Paris that outsiders often have.  When he spots a stranger, Roland, walking down the sidewalk, seemingly happy, Pierre wishes he could be just like that, “carefree in the streets of Paris,” not realizing that he’s talking about a lonely lonely man who just had his own heart broken.

This is a mostly interesting movie, with good performances, but as is often the case in movies with so many characters, there are some I liked and others I was a little bored with.  So while certain story lines are being played out, I’m wishing they’d end so we could go back to the more interesting ones.  The overall effect is good though, even if a little underwhelming.  The feeling of the randomness of life (and death) is captured fairly well, but sometimes the random things can be a little dull.  Such is the case with portions of this movie.

Apparently helmets won’t always save you in a motorcycle accident…

10 – .8 for some dull portions – 1.9 for a few story lines I could have done without + .1 for good performances = 7.4