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  • A call center representative, teacher, real estate agent, and online webcam model somehow find their lives coming together in the new Jacques Audiard film, "Paris 13th District" ("Les Olympiades").

    Audiard has taken a special interest in the lives of resilient people set within his native country. The films "Dheepan" and "A Prophet '' don't showcase France at its best, instead, they shine a light on the many problems Audiard sees. After taking a detour into the English-language for the unfairly ignored "The Sisters Brothers'', Audiard (along with co-writer Céline Sciamma of "Portrait of a Lady on Fire'' fame) once again sets his sights on modern French society, this time through the gaze of not one, but four main characters.

    Our protagonists (or antagonists depending on your viewpoint) all reside within the titular district of Paris, a highly populated sector known for its mixture of modern and traditional architecture. Émilie is a phone operator at a cell phone service call center who is stuck in a rut both professionally and romantically. She's a disappointment to her Taiwanese immigrant parents, who often call to tell her about her sister's experience as a doctor in England. Luckily, her romantic prospects improve by the arrival of Camille, a lonely school teacher who is inquiring about the vacant room in her apartment. Carnal feelings impulsively take over their relationship, something Émilie prefers as she lives by the motto "fuc* first, talk later."

    At the same time, Nora is a real estate agent trying to reinvent herself by going back to school, despite being a dozen years older than her fellow students. Further compounding her misfit status is her striking resemblance to famous webcam model Amber Sweet. She soon receives the unwanted attention of lustful boys, forcing her to retreat from academic prospects. With morbid curiosity, Nora decides to meet her doppleganger and see if they share anything besides just looks.

    Like Paul Thomas Anderson in "Magnolia" or Robert Altman in "Short Cuts", Audiard acts as a puppet master, crossing and pulling the strings of his characters. Being that there are only four main characters compared to dozens within Anderson and Altman's films, the interactions are more frequent. Audiard is interested in exploring the idea of opposites attracting, which brings out both the best and worst in each other.

    These characters carry a lot of baggage with them, which often gets saddled onto their partner in an acrimonious fashion. Audiard and Sciamma take an authentic approach to these moments, with characters getting in heated arguments that sometimes lead to break-ups, and sometimes lead to sex. The film is quite sexually explicit, with each actor bearing it all for the black-and-white screen. Except for the exceptional Noémie Merlant, the cast consists of relative unknowns, a fact that never crossed my mind as they have the chops of veterans.

    Speaking of black-and-white, the grainy cinematography by Paul Guillaume strips down the film to its rawest form. Like Sam Levinson's "Malcolm & Marie", the lack of color works to center our focus on the actors and their condensed surroundings.

    While the beautiful cinematography could be guessed from still images, what is most surprising is the great electronic score by French musical artist Rone. Mixing pop beats with fluttery strings, the score embodies the clash between modernity and tradition that is present within the characters and the city itself.

    Not without its problems, "Paris 13th District" often gets too attached to the trio of Émilie, Camille, and Nora, leaving Amber to a lower supporting status, despite her having the only sequence of the film shot in color. Frustratingly, Jehnny Beth's great work as the most interesting character isn't given the attention that most surely deserves.

    As filled with millennial insight as it is filled with nudity, "Paris 13th District" is a lighter affair from the dependable Jacques Audiard. Barring a few small setbacks within the script, the film is an arthouse delight that will connect with younger viewers, possibly more than they want it to.
  • Émilie, Camille, Nora, Amber Sweet: all of them don't want to be alone so they do lots of things in order not to. They are so alone quand même.

    But wait, is there any hope?

    Watch until the end.

    Why is this film so beautiful? Because of the magical Noémie Merlant? Or is it that it is black and white? Or is it Paris? Or M. Audiard? All of the four, I guess. Go watch!
  • saintgermain-839255 November 2021
    Goodness I could not disagree more with the other reviewers so far .I found this movie ugly and dispiriting and .frankly,pointless . I am clearly not a millenial and if ,as other reviewers mention,this is a fair reflection of life for millenials in Paris then i pity them, although i frankly do not believe it to be true . The lives portrayed are drab,souless,uninteresting,vapid and vaccuous. Yet not because this inevitable but because these characters choose it to be so . They are mired in their own self absorption and selfishness .The secret of the universe is of course somewhere in the sim card of a mobile phone .

    What happened to personal drive ,determination,generosity of spirit ,unselfishness,creativity ,making a better life for self and all ?

    If the Director wanted to show the shallowness of this cross section of French society he succeeded . And he also managed to make this area of Paris look so ugly one would never be interested to travel there .This must have been a really difficult task .

    Given the desolation of the script the actors made the best of a bad job.
  • The setting is Paris, 13th district. Youth culture. The fast life of millennials. Aspirations. Vanity. Egotistic admiration of one's idealised self-image and attributes. Sex. Love. Loneliness.

    Written and directed by the veteran French filmmaker Jacques Audiard and shot predominantly in black-and-white monochrome, Les Olympiades, Paris 13e (2021) is adapted from three interweaving stories about sex and love by the American comic book artist Adrian Tomine.

    The film is about the hope (and hopelessness) of being a millennial and trying to find your place in this fast-moving world.
  • It's pure honey 🍯 of an adventure into what can be shared and what is not for sharing in relationships in a laconic suburb of life and Paris, testing the limits of groking and groping for the comfort of the bourgeoisie and the meaning of commuting.

    Is that all there is, my friends....it is shot as intimately as it feels....and it is impossible to put down once you experience a bit of questing sensuality.