Paris Memories

****

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Paris Memories
"The combination of Efira and Magimel proves magnetic." | Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Directors' Fortnight

It starts in a most mundane manner with an open window looking over a tranquil and verdant Paris. Nothing prepares you for what is to come in Alice Winocour’s beautifully modulated and structured take on the personal aftermath of a Parisian terrorist attack.

Winocour constantly springs surprises, not least yet another inspiring performance in a completely different register form Virginia Efira as Mia who tries to come to terms with what has happened to her psychologically and physically after a merciless attack on a Parisian brasseries where she takes shelter from a thunder storm.

The film was partly inspired by the experiences of the director’s brother who survived the Bataclan attack but rather than dwell on the circumstances of the attack Winocour opts to envisage how life can go on.

Efira’s character who’s partner (Gregoire Colin) works as a medic, tries to piece together exactly what happened to her. The time frame of the film takes place three months after the event.

She has returned to Paris to pick up the pieces and to see if she can return eventually to her job as a Russian translator at French radio.

She revisits the restaurant to interact with some of the other survivors in a support group. One of them, a businessman played by Benoît Magimel is able to supply with clarity and a surprising stoical sense of humour some of the missing links in Mia’s perception of the evening. He was sitting opposite her, celebrating his birthday with work colleagues when all mayhem was unleashed.

Winocour (after Augustine, Disorder and Proxima) here demonstrates a masterly control of the material with a narrative that is consistently intriguing and involving while the combination of Efira and Magimel proves magnetic.

Reviewed on: 21 May 2022
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A woman caught up in a Paris terror attack and three months on she tries to piece together her memory.

Director: Alice Winocour

Writer: Jean-Stéphane Bron, Marcia Romano, Alice Winocour

Starring: Virginie Efira, Benoît Magimel, Maya Sansa, Grégoire Colin, Nastya Golubeva Carax, Amadou Mbow, Ema Zampa, Souleymane Touré, Jean Pierre Horcholle, Clarisse Makundul

Year: 2022

Runtime: 103 minutes

Country: France

Festivals:

Cannes 2022

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