Madcap francophone antics and lanky physical comedy are served aplenty in Lost in Paris, the new film from co-writers, co-directors, co-stars and spouses Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon. Even without knowing that bit of information about the film’s co-creators, it is clear that the pair constructed the cinematography, set pieces, physical humor and punchlines around their specific strengths and appeal as performers, and it is their charm and enthusiasm that help their story navigate through its unfortunately frequent lulls.
Lost in Paris
NR, 83 minutes
Violet Crown Cinema
Your enjoyment of Lost in Paris will depend mostly on how amused you are by blithe, breezy, directionless silliness, as there is not much else going on here. The film tells the story of Fiona and Dom (their characters’ names), an unlikely pair that cross paths through a series of misunderstandings and unfortunate events. Fiona, who lives in a remote, snow-covered Canadian town, receives a letter from her aunt Martha (legendary French actress Emmanuelle Riva, who passed earlier this year), and goes to visit Martha, who is not altogether mentally sound, in Paris. Fiona arrives at her aunt’s apartment, only to find that Martha is missing. Fiona is then left to her own devices in the City of Lights, with her limited French and impossible quantity of luggage—she packed as though she planned on hiking in the Alps, external frame backpack and all. (Whether this is a joke specifically about Canadians or visitors to France in general is anyone’s guess, as are many of the gags that are silly but often totally pointless.)
Enter Dom, a homeless man who treats his life on the street as a game to find maximum class in minimal resources. When Fiona loses her luggage (don’t worry about why or how, the sole motivator for everything in this movie is antics), Dom is the one who finds it, but treats the money and clothing as his own. When Dom and Fiona finally meet, she is part charmed by his relentless dedication to being an impoverished libertine, then outraged when she realizes he has the belongings she lost. Begin the hatred-to-love story.
Gordon greatly impresses with her exceedingly well choreographed physical comedy. Fiona (the character) is never fully at ease, and even when she is sitting completely still there is an energetic restlessness. But when the scene calls for big gestures and lots of movement, Gordon delivers with the grace and thoughtfulness of a skilled dancer—even if it is just being blown back by a brisk Canadian wind. Similarly, Abel exudes the same irrepressible charm as Dom (the character), who always sees every setback as an opportunity to do something inspired, despite his socioeconomic standing. The French name of the film captures some of this dynamic—Paris Pieds Nus, which approximately translates to Barefoot Paris.
There is a lot to like in Lost in Paris, but as with any story that mostly consists of strung together gags, where every movement and line of dialogue is exaggerated even when it’s not supposed to be funny, finding something to love can be difficult. Though it is only a lean 83 minutes long, it seems that Gordon and Abel use up most of their ideas in the first 30 to 40 minutes. Perhaps there is a uniquely French dynamic to this sense of humor that is missed by an American, judging by the quantity of giggles and French whispers at the press screening. Your mileage with its brand of humor may vary, but it must be said that Lost in Paris is long on charm but short on raison d’être.
Playing this week
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
377 Merchant Walk Sq., 326-5056
Annabelle: Creation, Birth of the Dragon, Cars 3, Dunkirk, Good Time, Green Room, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Ingrid Goes West, Logan Lucky
Regal Stonefield 14 and IMAX
The Shops at Stonefield, 244-3213
All Saints, Annabelle: Creation, The Big Sick, Birth of the Dragon, Cars 3, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Despicable Me 3, Dunkirk, The Emoji Movie, Girls Trip, The Glass Castle, Good Time, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Ingrid Goes West, Leap!, Logan Lucky, Marvel’s Inhumans, The Nut Job: Nutty by Nature, Spider-man: Homecoming
Violet Crown Cinema
200 W. Main St., Downtown Mall, 529-3000
An Inconvenient Sequel, The Big Sick, Dunkirk, The Glass Castle, Good Time, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Ingrid Goes West, Logan Lucky, Tulip Fever, Wind River