(out of 5)
Director Jean Rouch and sociologist Edgar Morin made this documentary as a record of Parisian lives in 1960, and what they came up with resulted in one of the most influential films of the French New Wave. It opens with strangers randomly asked on the streets about their emotional well-being, then zeroes in on a handful of people whose testimonials spread out over a number of months to give a glimpse at life in the big city. Among them, most effectively, are an African student and an Italian immigrant who are questioned about life as outsiders in the fast pace of the City of Lights. What results is a highly charismatic combination of both the timelessness of human concerns, their problems being not too different from anything an urbanite is preoccupied with today, and also a time capsule of European city life of the time that sees those general needs through a specific cultural moment. It’s edited and paced to the perfect length and has no slack in it whatsoever.
Music by Pierre Barbaud