‘Paris, 13th District’: Jacques Audiard’s Modern Love Triangle

Lucie Zhang as Émilie, Noémie Merlant as Nora, and Makita Samba as Camille Courtesy of IFC Movies

Director Jacques Audiard is thought for wildly authentic style thrill rides like Learn My Lips, A Prophet, Dheepan, and The Sisters Brothers. His movies — stocked with underworld thugs, jail kingpins, fight-at-all-costs immigrants, and wild-west assassins — are mythic in scope, and their jolting tales aren’t identified for his or her relatability. Even his most overt stab at romance, Rust and Bone, starred Marion Cotillard as a double amputee who misplaced each her legs in a killer whale mishap. 

So Paris, 13th District — a lusty, looking out take a look at romance by the lens of an city love triangle — is one thing of a departure. It’s additionally unabashedly candy, even about our tech-savvy lives. “Imagine yourself on the sidewalk and you’re looking at your cell phone, and there’s all these other people around you and they’re looking at cell phones,” Audiard instructed Observer final month. “And you’re going to a date, and they’re going to dates, all around you. Either they’re arranging for an amorous encounter, or they’re on their way to one. It makes the city really beautiful!” 

Director Jacques Audiard Courtesy of IFC Movies

It additionally makes the town fraught, as one lady goes on a molly-fueled Tinder bender whereas one other retains getting mistaken for her pornographic dopplegänger. They each find yourself sleeping with the identical man, whose carnal urge for food doesn’t fairly sate his personal emotional starvation. At one level, he even goes chilly turkey. “I’m on a sexual sabbatical,” he declares. It doesn’t final.

Modern love looks like a surprisingly down-to-earth topic for the eclectic Audiard, however the director is a longtime fan of French New Wave auteur Eric Rohmer, who made a profession of relationship dramas that had been merely instructed however advanced in nature. “It’s a way of preserving that idea of the amorous discourse: speaking of love in a new way, just reflected in a new way,” Audiard defined. He and Lucie Zhang, one of many movie’s stars, had been right here for Movie at Lincoln Heart’s Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, the place Paris, 13th District made its New York premiere. It was a homecoming of types for the movie, which relies on three quick tales by graphic novelist, and Brooklynite, Adrian Tomine. “I’m a little bit afraid because he’s going to be at the screening tonight,” confessed Audiard. “When adapting someone’s work, it’s like the old expression: the translator is a traitor.” 

Audiard shouldn’t have anxious. The movie intertwines Tomine’s tales—“Hawaiian Getaway,” “Amber Sweet,” and “Killing and Dying”—in free, creative ways in which nonetheless honor the fabric and seize the writer’s quietly beguiling emotional depths. A buddy of Audiard’s had really helpful that he learn Tomine, and the director sparked to the graphic novelist’s works instantly. However he additionally needed to collaborate on adapting them for the display screen, and insisted on utilizing ladies screenwriters, enlisting Léa Mysius in addition to the assistance of his celebrated filmmaker buddy Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Girl on Fireplace). “I wasn’t familiar with Tomine’s stories, but Céline knew them by heart,” he defined. “To tell you the truth, now when I see the film, I really have a hard time distinguishing which are the parts that came from Tomine and which are ours.” He laughed, then added: “Perhaps Tomine will remind me at tonight’s screening.”

Adrian Tomine’s artwork within the ‘Paris 13th District’ poster Courtesy of IFC Movies

What makes Paris, 13th District so affecting is that these aren’t fresh-faced naïfs ping-ponging by life. They’re extremely educated, emotionally clever singletons of their early 30s. Camille (Makita Samba) is a highschool instructor who’s engaged on his post-doctorate diploma. Nora (Noémie Merlant) is getting a regulation diploma on the Panthéon-Sorbonne. However they’re each stressed, altering their skilled trajectories mid-film and ending up working collectively briefly at an actual property workplace. 

Emilie (Zhang), too, is overeducated and adrift: she has a level in political science however opts to work at a name heart, a dead-end job that fills her with bemusement and contempt. She additionally lacks ambition, particularly in romance, eschewing the exhausting work of emotional vulnerability for the short rush of app-fueled informal intercourse. “It’s the danger of being alienated by technology if there isn’t just a little bit of self-control,” Zhang defined. “But it’s cool to have all those technologies. I don’t know, I’ve never known that ‘ancient period’ before all that!” 

Audiard’s era is aware of that interval all too properly, and the director factors to Rohmer’s basic 1969 movie My Evening at Maud’s as an much more classic period. “Even then, his characters seemed not of that time,” he stated. “Rohmer couldn’t care less about what it is to be modern. He’s writing stories with characters who are really outside of any defined period of time.” 

For Audiard, what makes Rohmer so timeless—and so perpetually related—is dialog. “The one thing between the heart and the body is the power of dialogue, a romantic discourse,” he stated. “You have the power of speech. The characters are talking, they don’t stop talking, they like to hear themselves talk. And in a way, by doing so, it becomes more eroticized.”

In truth, Audiard’s intercourse scenes are outlined by dialogue. “Even in all of the love scenes, they never stop talking,” he stated. Speaking is what helps Nora get by the truth that individuals in her grad faculty courses preserve considering she appears to be like like a intercourse cam woman named Amber Candy (Jehnny Beth). Nora turns into so obsessive about their comparable look that she tracks down Amber and befriends her over Skype. The 2 strike up a confessional rapport that’s arguably the movie’s most tender relationship—and notably it blossoms with none bodily interplay between them.

For an Audiard movie, Paris, 13th District additionally has a ton of intercourse—one thing he hasn’t actually filmed earlier than with such graphic abandon. “I’m not completely comfortable with that,” he admitted. “The same is true, really, with scenes of violence. Not to equate the two at all, but I link the two together because in movies they’re both really fake.” 

So Audiard relied on intimacy coordinators and entrusted his actors to give you their very own blocking. “We were directing ourselves,” stated Zhang. “He wanted to see how naturally we would reach something if he didn’t really give us any indication.” The outcomes are specific moments that don’t really feel exploitative—not the predictable male gaze, however what Lucie describes as a “multi-gaze” that feels extra equitable.

However what actually makes Paris, 13th District so modern is its casting—Audiard has lengthy most popular to spotlight completely different ethnicities and cultures in his filmmaking by shaping tales round, say, a French-Algerian, in A Prophet, or a Sri Lankan household, in Dheepan. “I try to bring in new faces, people speaking in different languages,” he stated. “This is really what represents France: this kind of diversity.” And in its sensual, hyperverbal, blithely quotidian approach, the outcome couldn’t be extra cinematically Gallic.


Director Jacques Audiard on ‘Paris, 13th District’ a Modern Love Triangle With Classic French New Wave Inspiration

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