Lost in Paris

 

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A lightweight comedy recognisably in the established style of its creators.

 
Lost in Paris

 

Here they come again: Abel and Gordon, otherwise Dominique Abel from Belgium and Fiona Gordon from Australia, bring us another quirky comedy in which they star while also sharing credits as writers and directors. Following on from Rumba (2008) and The Fairy (2011), Lost in Paris is in the same vein and most of those named in the technical credits below have become the regular team working with Abel and Gordon. As usual, these two play characters named after themselves.

 

In this instance, this Belgian/French co-production is indeed set in Paris as the title suggests although quite a lot of the dialogue is in English. The simple notion that fuels this film (to call it a story would almost be an exaggeration) is that Fiona travels from Canada summoned to Paris by a delayed letter from her aged aunt Marthe (the late Emmanuelle Riva) who wants her help in resisting the idea of being moved into a care home. When Fiona gets there she has difficulty in locating Marthe since the latter is hiding away to preserve her independence. Furthermore, Fiona promptly manages to fall into the Seine thus losing her luggage and her passport. However, her baggage will in due course be found by the homeless Dom who will later encounter both Marthe and Fiona herself.

 

Although Abel and Gordon play as a comic duo, it is the gawky Fiona who is the chief focus, a naive innocent who keeps meeting with disaster but somehow always survives. Nevertheless, Dom is a necessary presence and a scene in which the two of them dance in a restaurant with Fiona's eccentric yet agile leg movements to the fore is a highlight. Even so, as with their earlier films my responses are mixed: there are times when the material becomes rather silly and the series of set pieces (some with echoes of the style of Jacques Tati  but also with a  craziness that this time made me think of Jerry Lewis) are hit and miss. Lost in Paris is at its best when at its most cheerful. The music featured calls on Shostakovich's Jazz Suites and there's a delightful soft shoe shuffle featuring Riva and Pierre Richard while 'The Swimming Song' by Loudon Wainwright III becomes an apt theme tune indicative of Fiona's spirit (not drowning but swimming, and perhaps waving too). On the other hand, a jokey mock racist speech at a funeral is uneasy, a finale on the Eiffel Tower is rather desperate and the film's tone is not always consistent (Riva's Aunt Marthe is sympathetic yet a late scene concerning her ashes feels heartless).

 

The work of Abel and Gordon tends despite its idiosyncrasy to encourage comparisons - and often with superior artists. Yet they continue undaunted doing their own thing without compromise: sometimes you laugh and sometimes you don't, but you have to admire their persistence.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Emmanuelle Riva, Pierre Richard, Emmy Boissard Paumelle, Céline Laurentie.

 

Dir Abel & Gordon, Pro Abel & Gordon, Christie Molia and Charles Gillibert, Screenplay Abel & Gordon, Ph Claire Childéric and Jean-Christophe Leforestier, Art Dir Nicolas Girault, Ed Sandrien Deegen, Costumes Claire Dubien.

 

Courage Mon Amour/Moteur s'il vous plait/CG Cinéma/SCOPE Pictures-Arrow Films.
83 mins. Belgium/France. 2016. Rel: 24 November 2017. Cert. 12A.