September 20, 2014
Everybody dies happy in Paris or goes to Saint Malo
For the Herald
A postcard of a film showing a timeless Paris tailored to reflect the clichéd American dream — overflowing with parks and benches and dead leaves and children and old people and baguettes sans cornichons. Immaculate architecture everywhere with side views of the Eiffel Tower and open views of large boulevards — everything at the same price everywhere no dirt no poor people no graffiti and no realistic hint of what the City of Light actually is.
A place for well-off retired and widowed philosophy professors from Princeton with surly dispositions and mercurial tempers who after living there for years are incapable of uttering a single word in French except maybe mademoiselle merci or pardon never mind the language of Voltaire – Descartes – Pascal – Derrida – Deleuze – Lacan or whoever you may please. Sexless men of protestant virtue bursting with generosity and giving away summer houses in Saint Malo which is one of the top three seaside places in France for Americans or maybe not just coastal France but all of it.
A city where — voilà — there are pretty blond angels and they are almost bilingual in French and English but delicate and vulnerable and so ingenuous they seem more stupid than anything else and make ends meet teaching exotic dances in some nondescript place or other.
A film where love saves the day even as an imaginary or seemingly real ghost. More images of dysfunctional and cuckolded sons rushing from the States at the speed of a Concorde before the failed suicide attempt of their scholastic and anguished sire. Negative duplications of father-son relationships and idealizations of blond and selfless mothers although there’s also the image of one mum who is too shopaholic and addicted to champagne and Vuitton.
A world where every problem and dysfunctionality seems to be cured with simple sombre and virile words about honesty and thwarted pride which are neither deep nor virile.
A little over a hundred minutes of vanity and tackiness and corny emotions and intermittent clichés leaving the viewer on the brink of liver failure. Definitely not my plate of fois gras with Perignon.