Com­edy cou­ple cre­ate colour­ful ode to the City of Lights.

New Zealand Listener - - CON­TENTS - By Peter Calder LOST IN PARIS di­rected by Do­minique Abel and Fiona Gor­don IN CIN­E­MAS NOW

Ready Player One, Lost in Paris

Part­ners in per­for­mance and in real life, Do­minique Abel and Fiona Gor­don co-write, co-di­rect and co-star in this charm­ing and whim­si­cal story of missed con­nec­tions and good in­ten­tions.

They de­ploy a win­ning phys­i­cal com­edy to de­light­ful ef­fect as the per­fectly mis­matched pro­tag­o­nists of a film set and shot on and near the banks of the Seine. It de­rives from the clown tra­di­tion – both are cir­cus vet­er­ans – and owes much to Jac­ques Tati as well, par­tic­u­larly in the pace, the bright light­ing and their fond­ness for bold pri­mary colours. But its car­toon style – it’s like Kau­ris­mäki on happy pills – has a zest all its own and it never feels de­riv­a­tive.

Fiona (Gor­don), liv­ing in a snow­bound vil­lage in Canada, has never for­got­ten her aunt Martha, who left long ago for the French cap­i­tal. So when Martha, now 88, writes plead­ing to be saved from con­sign­ment to a re­tire­ment vil­lage, her niece flies to her res­cue. Af­ter a se­ries of mishaps, she ar­rives to find that Martha is not chez Martha. And the film runs three sto­ries in par­al­lel to ex­plain what hap­pened (in the third story, Dom [Abel], a lanky and an­gu­lar dump­ster-div­ing tramp, hap­pens

on Fiona’s lost pack, and then on Fiona).

You need to leave your scep­ti­cism at the door: in this Paris, full cham­pagne bot­tles float and a tent erected on the edge of the Seine doesn’t at­tract the at­ten­tion of the gen­darmerie. And, na­turelle­ment, the de­noue­ment takes place on top of the Eif­fel Tower.

Abel and Gor­don may carry the story, but they don’t steal the show. Martha is played by the leg­endary Em­manuelle Riva, most re­cently seen as the stricken wife in Michael Haneke’s 2012 mas­ter­piece Amour. She is as­ton­ish­ing here, too, no­tably in a foot­sie dance with an­other leg­end, Pierre Richard, which is alone worth the price of ad­mis­sion.

It stretches a cou­ple of ideas out too long, but it’s as ir­re­sistible as the city it’s named for, and it will put a goofy grin on your face for the rest of the day.

Lost in Paris: leave your scep­ti­cism at the door.

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