Paris 13th District (2021)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5

Original Title: Les Olympiades, Paris 13e

, 2021. , , , , , . Screenplay by , , Jacques Audiard. Cinematography by . Produced by . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

Alienation in the big city is examined through the experiences of two women and the people they meet while living in the Les Olympiades neighbourhood of Paris’s 13th arrondissement, in a fetching and sympathetic adaptation of three stories by cartoonist Adrian Tomine.

Emilie () works a mundane job at a call center and lives in a spacious apartment owned by her grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s in a nursing home, deciding to make a little cash by renting out part of the unit to a boarder. She’s disappointed when a man shows up to answer her ad, she was hoping that with a name like Camille () she’d be getting a female applicant, but he quickly convinces her to let him move in and they quickly cross the roommate line into the bedroom.

She’s resentful when he displays no interest in connecting on more than just the physical level, focusing on the doctorate that he has taken leave from teaching to work on, and it inspires aggressive arguments that eventually see him leave their living arrange1ment.

Meanwhile, Nora () has just moved to the City of Lights from Bordeaux, leaving behind her career in real estate to pursue a degree in criminal law, but when a night out clubbing gets her mistaken for an online sex worker and it reaches her classmates, she loses the pep and optimism with which she began her school year and quickly falls into despondency.

Cut to a month later and Emilie has moved on to another job as a waitress and still has the odd argument with Camille by text, the rest of the time having sex with random strangers via a hook-up app, while Nora has left school to return to real estate, getting a job at a firm run by Camille who has taken the job to help pay for his studies.

Nora flirts with the idea of a romance with him but is held back by her own reservations about love and trust, then after getting a little closure regarding the incident at school, she looks up Amber Sweet, the cam girl that she supposedly resembles (played by singer ) and they begin a friendship over the internet that causes her no stress.

Filmed in lovely, milky monochrome and expertly performed by a top-flight cast, this film sees auteur Jacques Audiard return to the kind of zippy urban energy that first brought him international attention, and much like The Beat That My Heart Skipped the film works through its quirky plot with elegant ease and has no excess fat on any of the interactions on display. Also like his earliest and most enjoyable films, though, this is also a film about deep, soulful people that cannot access much more than their surface experience, thoroughly enjoyable but not one that leaves a significant impression.

Cannes Film Festival: In Competition

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