Review: LOST IN PARIS, Somewhere Between Whimsy, Winsome and Wonderful

Written, directed by and starring Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon, LOST IN PARIS is a delightful, wispy comedy.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas (@peteramartin)
Review: LOST IN PARIS, Somewhere Between Whimsy, Winsome and Wonderful

The latest collaboration between Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon is a delicate, breezy and entirely endearing comic tale of love and kinship.

Herewith I will admit to my shameful, total ignorance of the couple's previous features, L'iceberg (2005), Rumba (2008) and La fee (The Fairy; 2011, reviewed by our own Jim Tudor). They actually have been working together in film since at least 1994, when their short Merci Cupidon was completed. Per Cineuropa, they "met in Paris through their love of the circus" some 37 years ago and make their films in Belgium.

I mention all that because Lost in Paris (Paris pieds nus) feels simultaneously fresh and also studied, like the latest chapter in a continuing, lighthearted epic that has little to do with the present day, or recent trends in filmmaking. It is distinctive and disarming, made up of small physical gestures and silly slapstick moments and outrageously rude slights and a sincerity to please.

Gordon plays a character named Fiona, a librarian in a small town in rural Canada. One day, Fiona receives an invitation to visit her Aunt Martha in Paris. It seems that Martha, portrayed by the marvelous Emmanuelle Riva, is 88 years old and being threatened with being moved into an old folks home and needs help to avoid that fate. So the little-traveled Fiona heads off on a great adventure to Paris.

Soon after arrival, Fiona, strapped to a ridiculously oversized backpack, complete with Canadian flag sticking out on top, goes ass over teakettle on a bridge over the river Seine and loses said backpack (and money and passport and everything else). She is distraught, especially since she already visited Martha and found no one home.

paris_pieds_nus_poster-350.jpgAh, but all is not lost, since Martha has not died, she has simply wandered away from home. And Fiona's backpack has not disappeared, but instead has found its way into the hands of Dom (Abel), a homeless gentleman who makes use of the clothing and money and passport he finds in said backpack.

Fiona and Dom keep colliding into each other like bumper cars, somewhat attracted to each other and yet (to a degree) repelled as well. As Fiona searches for Martha, Dom searches for something to do with Fiona. Naturally, true love blooms.

The plot, frankly, is really besides the point, but its loose construction gives purpose and meaning to the collision of two isolated, perhaps lonely souls who somehow belong together. If nothing else, they share that point of isolation.

Up until the start of the story, Fiona has been far removed from most people, and seems to have been perfectly fine with that. Dom obviously has some kind of back story that ended with him homeless, but he's no moaner; he's accepted his lot in life, though he's happy if it improves through no effort on his own.

What lifts the tale up is the comic treatment of the circumstances. It's a gentle sort of humor, informed by physical comedy and an acceptance that the world is not as terrible as it seems most of the time.

That makes Lost in Paris a very bright, cheerful, optimistic and light comedy, one that's easy to recommend.

The film opens in select theaters in the U.S. on Friday, June 16, via Oscilloscope Pictures.

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BelgiumDominique AbelFiona Gordon

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