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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.
  • Un pequeño gran film francés que pone en escena aspectos de la vida en un distrito de París. Destacan la pantalla partida, una fotografía excepcional, las interesantes interpretaciones, la profundidad del guion y la emotividad de algunos momentos de la película.
  • Greetings again from the darkness. Jacques Audiard is one of the filmmakers who has won my cinematic loyalty through his consistently thought-provoking and entertaining films. His five features since 2005 have all been excellent: THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED (2005), A PROPHET (2009), RUST AND BONE (2012), DEEPHAN (2015), THE SISTERS BROTHERS (2018). This latest is a different kind of story for Audiard, and it's based on the stories from animator Adrian Tomine. Audiard adapted the screenplay with Nicholas Livecchi, Lea Mysius, and Celine Sciamma (writer and director of PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE, 2019). The result is a unique vision of modern-day love set in an area of Paris that is rarely featured in films.

    Audiard gives us a REAR WINDOW-esque opening that lands on a couple evidently singing naked Karaoke. We are then informed, "It began like this." Emilie (newcomer Lucie Zhang) is a tele-salesperson augmenting her income by renting out a room in her apartment ... well, it's her grandmother's apartment, but she is confined to a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer's. Emilie wants a female roommate and Camile is the first to schedule a showing. Only Camile (Makita Samba) isn't female. Instead, he's a handsome teacher working on his doctorate, and since there is a spark between he and Emilie, she agrees to let him move in. The attraction plays out as you would imagine, right up until Camile slams on the brakes and informs a frustrated Emilie that he has no intention of being a couple, and soon invites another lady friend over for an evening of intimacy. The micro-aggressions between Emilie and Camile escalate, and soon he moves out.

    Next we meet thirty-something Nora (Noemie Merlant, PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE) who is excited (almost giddy) to be headed back to law school. It doesn't take long for classmates to mistake her for a popular online sexy cam-girl named Amber Sweet. The mistaken identity and bullying cause Nora to drop out and return to her previous profession - real estate. It turns out the local office is being managed by Camile, who, disillusioned with teaching, is looking for a fresh start by helping out a friend. Nora sets the ground rules and the two maintain a professional relationship, right up to the point where they cross the line and become lovers.

    Audiard shoots most of the film in black and white, which gives it the timeless feel of so many French romantic dramas over the years. The difference here stems from the sexual dynamics and interconnected stories and characters all within Paris' 13th arrondissement. One of the terrific storylines has Nora cultivating a chat relationship with the same Amber Sweet (Jehnny Beth of the English rock band Savages) she was mistaken for. Personal grief plays a role with two of the main characters, while a dark family secret burdens another. This emphasizes how we each carry the past and it sticks with us regardless of the path we choose. The film also reinforces how there are invariably contradictions in how we see ourselves and our actual behavior. These characters may engage in casual sex, though by the end, it's clear each wants more than they are willing to admit. Things wrap up pretty neatly in the end, but the road travelled is a bit rocky.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    'Les Olympiades' is the name of one of the most non-Parisian districts of Paris, a kind of dormitory district with tall buildings and standardized architecture built in the 1970s. It is also the French name for Jacques Audiard's latest (2021) film distributed under the English title 'Paris, 13th District'. Like the atypical Parisian neighborhood that tourists have no reason to visit, 'Les Olympiades' is a rather atypical film for the career of the French director who made some very good films combining the thriller genre with social criticism, bringing to the screen a France less picturesque, but authentic. Celine Sciamma, the screenwriter and director of the excellent 'Portrait de la jeune fille en feu', also collaborated in writing the screenplay, which ensures that the feminist points of view are well represented. After trying his forces over the ocean with a western and he is quite far from the templates ('The Sisters Brothers'), Jacques Audiard continues his cinematic explorations with this film, the story of three young people in Paris today, of their lives filled with stress and problems, of the relationships between them that in the rush of life sometimes lead to sex but almost never to love.

    Camille is a (talented) high school teacher who at one point takes a break from teaching to find time for his PhD and works (without talent) on a real estate agency. A misunderstanding leads him to be a co-tenant and share the apartment with Emilie, a girl who lives an intense and messy life. At the agency he meets Nora, who, going through a trauma that the heroine of Radu Jude's 'Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn' would recignize, had dropped out of law school and returned (with talent and without passion) to her job as a real estate agent. The three young people have sex, fall in love, are or are not couples, are looking for each other, separate, get back together. The relationship that starts with sex is the one that eventually turns out to be more stable than the one that starts on the emotional path. However, better not to draw conclusions, because Audiard doesn't try to suggest any morals either.

    The plot unfolds smoothly, as Jacques Audiard knows how to tell stories on screen. The cinematography is excellent. Audiard and Paul Guilhomme decided to use (except for one scene) black and white, and the combination with the background of a depersonalized Paris, which could be any other big city in the world, is spectacular. It is in this un-Parisian atmosphere that the script manages to bring into question some of the critical issues of today's urban French society - the infernal pace of life, job insecurity, the multicultural environment and relations between different ethnic communities, the housing crisis - along with other emotional elements valid everywhere - the connections between young people who do not have time to live, the relationship between sex and love, the pressure of the internet social networks. The social-sentimental combination is well balanced. Lucie Zhang, Makita Samba and Noemie Merlant play excellent lead roles. The soundtrack is also interesting and well adapted. 'Les Olympiades' is a film anchored in life, filmed in an unusual Paris, which will definitely attract the interest of many of its viewers.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Just in case anyone is wondering:

    This film is not about millenials' life in Paris, it's about what an old man apparently completely out of touch with the youth imagines it to be. Dialogs sounds completely fake throughout. Parisian millenial friends and I spent the whole movie laughing at the innemurable absurdities.

    The only thing that sounds sincere is the relationship between Nora and Amber.
  • Serious vitality present in this piece probably just the lifeforce of the sexual drive of mankind

    Those millennials here live in a very bleak world ruled by necessity survival greed selfishness in a way which previous generations can only gawp at in disbelief

    It can be best summarized in the question "Is this what it has come to?" The answer is seemingly yes

    Relationships are commercial transaction or shadows of that; an ersatz for human interraction; what did we seriously expect after 40 years of Neoliberalism? A more caring way of relating .... these are folks who know nothing but precariousness of work and relationships; a subtle urban brutality is written in their daily wherever they look add to that the digital alienation which is the wallpaper and in some ways the blueprint of their lives .... nothing else could have come out of all this

    It is a beautiful depiction of this milieu this section of the population; the 13th Arrondissement of Paris looks more like Saõ Paolo or Shanghai than it does Paris

    The truly bilingual and bicultural reality of the main character here Émilie is awesome to watch the switching between the 2 worlds between Voltaire and Kong Fu Tzu without even a blink. All the actors here are excellent and Audiart the son has produced yet another minor masterpiece like The Prophet he made a few years back. Here it is a Parisian Love story for the 21st century.
  • A sophisticated cleaving of the heart and identity that's both a sex drama and a love story - just like life. I was absorbed by the complicated reality of finding oneself and each other. When we give away parts of ourselves, can we jigsaw them back together?

    Director Jacques Audiard impresses - he's previously made great movies but this is his classiest. All round, the actors were perfection - Lucie Zhang dazzles in her feature debut, and Noémie Merlant is as wonderful as she was in 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'. The screenwriting and cinematography were terrific too.

    'Paris, 13th District' more than absorbed me as its emotions remain with me. Its black & white was perfect for watching last rainy night, and holding onto this rainy morning.
  • It's excruciating having on your laptop the video file for a film you're dying to see but not having the subtitles for it. - 2022 goal: learn French. - Today, someone, God bless his soul, uploaded the English subs for the movie, and I finally got to watch it.

    A beautiful film! A candid and unreserved look at love life in the early thirties, portrayed brilliantly by an - Merlant excluded - unknown cast. What I loved the most here was how the film floats around from one character to the other, detaching you in a way from them, but that worked so well in creating a cozy, calming atmosphere where you can enjoy the movie without getting too emotionally attached with any of them. Audiard takes you and puts you into a place where you can't "get hurt" by connecting too deeply or caring a lot for a character while at the same time telling a story that's supposed to do that to you. That alone, I think it's incredible to pull off, but Jacques managed to do so with flying colors. Here we got, essentially, the tearless, color-deprived version of last year's 'The Worst Person in the World' (plus through some "online dating" perspective into it). 'Paris, 13th District' was a comfortable watch for me, and I think it's a film I'll revisit because, again, I found it extremely relaxing. And with that, I don't mean there weren't moments I didn't have an emotional response to what I saw. The emotions are there, especially in the end. They just don't hit you like Hiroshima.
  • rcuttill1 April 2022
    I don't mind films with subtitles although it can be distracting reading them whilst trying to follow the action. This film is basically one man and three women whose lives intertwine in the 13e district of Paris. There's some simulated sex and a bit of nudity which isn't bad. However I don't think we get enough of the characters and the story. So pleasant but I did expect more of a narrative that goes somewhere. There doesn't seem to be much of a conclusion. It just sort of ends.
  • AliAMN29 March 2022
    At first, I thought it was going to be a threesome movie like "LOVE" I was wrong, but it felt good. I liked it. I think it was better than Hollywood melodramas!

    I liked the way it was made. B&W shots, simple soundtracks, and the storyline.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I would've rated it higher, but it annoyed me to see lots of frontal female nude scenes and not a single male one. Even the dick pick had to be blurred. How sad that films are still contributing to a society where the male gaze is considered standard.
  • I have read some of the reviewers here who dislike the film, and I am one of them, and shot in the main in crisp black and white it ( for me ) resembles the worst of Godard. All its pseudo and arty realism is all too familiar from a lot of other French films who try to make sense of so-called ' reality ' and the director whose other films I have not seen has the usual hetero male gaze and chooses his reality carefully. One scene really got to me; a female nude crossing a room with a semi-naked man in a bed awkwardly hiding his own genitalia. What does this tell you of the intrinsic penis phobia that still stalks our screens ? I give it a reluctant four for the acting which was reasonably good, and for the photography. It does show an uninviting part of Paris and quite well, but I was bored to tears by the ( for me ) all too familiar ( and yes I am repeating the word ) content. The title is pretentious and tries to give an uplift that is not there. The Emperor's New Clothes, but the naked Emperor has of course to be female.
  • 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.