Thursday 4 August 2022

Paris, 13th District (Les Olympiades) [2021]

 Jacques Audiard’s adaptation of three acclaimed graphic novellas by American cartoonist Adrian Tomine – albeit, transplanted to Paris with surprising elan – is a beguiling and sensual amalgamation of old and new sensibilities – a tale of kinship and quest for love amidst the loneliness and existential isolation of an impersonal, hypermodern urbanscape. Audiard accomplished this dichotomy – based on a screenplay jointly written with none other than Céline Sciamma – through use of luminous B/W photography and melancholic palette on one hand, and the cold setting of the skyscraper-filled 13th arrondissement of Les Olympiades and candid depiction of lust, intimacy and sexuality on the other. It followed an emotionally fraught ménage à trois between three lost, demographically divided millennials craving for romance and companionship. Émilie (Lucie Zhang), who stays in an apartment that belongs to her senile grandmother and works at a shabby call centre, takes in Camille (Makita Samba), an erudite high school teacher working on doctoral degree, as her roommate. The two become lovers for a while; however, when he ends their brief fling with casual impassivity, the promiscuous Émilie finds herself falling for him. Meanwhile, Nora (Noémie Merlant), who’s moved to Paris to get back to college after many years, faces public humiliation on being mistaken for cam sex worker Amber Sweet (Jehnny Beth), upon which she begins a surprisingly affecting and deeply personal camaraderie with Amber, alongside an affair with Camille who she partners with in a small real estate company. The volatile and intertwining relationships were brought forth through fine performances, but none as fascinating as Zhang’s who expressed a volley of emotions and stirring vulnerability throughout the film’s length. The electronic theme score was an added bonus.

Director: Jacques Audiard

Genre: Drama/Romantic Drama/Urban Drama

Language: French

Country: France

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