Lost in Paris
by Toby Woollaston
Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon team up once again, opening a kitbag of acting, writing and directing talents that can best be described as an “acquired taste”. Their films feel like an unwieldy blend of Mr Bean and Wes Anderson minus the comic timing or genius, and Lost in Paris is no different, with a gratuitously quirky style that renders it insufferably twee. Despite wanting to be, The Grand Budapest Hotel this is not.
Fiona (Gordon), a librarian in a sleepy Canadian town, receives a distress letter from her elderly Parisian aunt (played by the great Emmanuelle Riva … really, what were you thinking?!). Fearful of being carted off to a retirement village, Aunt Martha does a runner moments prior to Fiona arriving. Much hilarity ensues. New to Paris, Fiona stumbles upon Dom (Abel), a vagrant who falls in love and pursues her, endlessly. Much hilarity continues. The two continue to look for Aunt Martha and stumble their way through Parisian streets, graveyards, the Eiffel Tower etc; more hilarity etc.
If you can detect a slight hint of sarcasm in my commentary, you’d be right—there is no hilarity to be had here, that is, unless your taste in humour sits within the bounds of the farcically banal. If that’s your bag then fair enough, you’ll be all over this film like a cheap suit. Because here, the inane gags line up like lemmings.
In the film’s most questionable scene, Dom’s predatory behaviour finally abates and they find common ground that leads to possibly the most unintentionally awkward sex scene in cinematic history (ok, perhaps Tommy Wiseau’s The Room takes that honour … but this is close). The scene appears to want its audience to gush over its deft use of the filmic artifice, and giggle at its alluring charm. Nope, not even close.
Try as I might to find some redeeming quality to Lost in Paris, a noble allegory or subtext perhaps, all I found was an impenetrable wall of whimsy too difficult to pierce. So I gave up the fight and just drifted along for the ride—that didn’t help either.
See more of my NZME reviews here.