EmptyLONDON -- Christophe Honore's "Inside Paris," which opens in the United Kingdom May 4, is a pretentious, talkative and mercifully short discourse on self-absorption. An attempt at a throwback to the New Wave, the film follows two brothers as they deal with the women in their lives in very different ways.
It begins with one of them, Jonathan (Louis Garrel), speaking directly to the camera and he acknowledges the "intolerably embarrassing odor" of doing so. But saying it does not change it, and Honore's self-conscious script continues to sound pleased with itself throughout. A pleasing cast and an appealing jazz score will not be enough to raise the film, which screened at last year's Cannes sidebar Directors' Forntight, beyond the festival circuit.
Jonathan narrates the story and returns to the camera now and then as we learn of older brother Paul (Romain Duris), who is sufficiently depressed over his failed relationship with single-mother Anna (Joana Preiss) that he moves into the cramped apartment of his pensioner father (Guy Marchand) and layabout student Jonathan.
Dad clings grumpily to family life although his wife, the boys' mother (Marie-France Pisier), dumped him years ago for a Canadian lumberjack. She comes back now and then for an argument before slamming the door on her way out.
Jonathan is a free spirit who is catnip to Parisian females, having three encounters in one day including an afternoon spent with his old girlfriend Alice (Alice Butard). He wants to save Paul from his depression over a relationship that is depicted in various out-of-order sequences and encounters. Paul and Anna are revealed as a couple who have exhausted their love to the point where wounding each other is the prime glue keeping them together.
The players do the best they can with Duris ("The Beat That My Heart Skipped") always watchable, Garrel ("The Dreamers") a likeably scruffy talent, and Marchand and Pisier doing reliable work, but the characters are tiresome, the editing is choppy and Paris looks dull and unappealing. Alex Beaupain's fine jazz score is the best thing about it.
There is much talk about love and pain and the whole damned thing in between Papa cooking chicken soup, Paul lying in bed moaning and listening to old love songs, Alice showing up again, and Jonathan gadding about Paris getting laid. At one point, Paul gets up in the middle of the night and jumps off a bridge into the Seine. Sadly, he survives.
IFC First Take
Director: Christophe Honore
Writer: Christophe Honore
Producer: Paulo Branco
Director of photography: Jean-Louis Vialard
Production designer: Samuel Dehsors
Music: Alex Beaupain
Costume designer: Pierre Canitrot
Editor: Chantal Hymans
Paul: Romain Duris
Jonathan: Louis Garrel
Anna: Joana Preiss
Father: Guy Marchand
Mother: Marie-France Pisier
Alice: Alice Butard
Scooter girl: Helena Noguerra
Running time -- 93 minutes
No MPAA rating