Steve Buscemi, tourist, in the Coen brother's contribution to Paris, Je T'aime
Paris, Je T'aime
First Look Pictures
Opens May 4, Paris Theatre and Sunshine Cinema
Paris, Je T'aime's brimming declaration of love to the City of Lights leaves one breathless but dissatisfied. Paris's quartiers and the rainbow coalition of people who inhabit them are the connective tissue for this spotty omnibus's 18 segments; five minutes each, these trifles come and go before they've registered in the mind. Only Tom Tykwer attempts to redress this constraint by evoking a blind man's romance with an actress as a spastic glitch in time. Isabelle Coixet and Nobuhiro Suwa's contributions are endearingly bittersweet suck-ups to love and death, but both treat the Paris setting as superfluous. Sylvain Chomet, Olivier Assayas, and Alexander Payne more sensitively consider the feelings of elation the city can rouse, while Oliver Schmitz conveys the complex politics of Paris's racial diversity with a heft and economy that evades Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas. Leave it to the Coen brothers to show everyone up with their acerbic Tuileries, in which Steve Buscemi's encounter with a hellish couple inside a Metro station slyly hints at a raison d'être for the Mona Lisa's smilea symbol for the transfixing allure of the most beautiful city in the world.