Throughout certainly one of many lilting conversations about intercourse and want in Paris, thirteenth District, charismatic, assured trainer Camille (Makita Samba) shallowly states, “If I’m not violently turned on, overlook it. Attraction fades, so begin with the best attraction stage.” It’s an strategy that doesn’t go down effectively with still-infatuated former lover Émilie (Lucie Zhang), regardless of her personal laid-back angle to courting (“Fuck first, see later”), and one which director Jacques Audiard appears eager to deconstruct in a movie that eschews a lot of the starting of its characters’ relationships, focusing extra on how they deal with one another afterwards.
Let’s flash again, because the movie does, to ‘How It Started’ — Émilie and Camille first meet when the latter rents a room from the previous, a spiky first encounter turning rapidly into informal intercourse, which turns rapidly into unrequited love. Elsewhere within the metropolis, Nora (Noémie Merlant) is returning to school to review legislation, free from the clutches of a mysterious previous relationship however nonetheless trapped in a type of shy social naivety that sees her struggling to make pals and slot in along with her youthful friends. Their three lives in the end all collide. Hearts are received, damaged and mended once more.
Although every character has their very own plot-strands to deal with — typically distractingly so — Paris, thirteenth District is essentially extra involved with temper than it’s narrative. It flits round in time, every vignette choosing out pivotal moments in Nora, Camille and Émilie’s relationships. It’s a construction that is sensible, given the movie relies on a set of brief tales — nevertheless it’s not at all times clear what number of days or even weeks have handed and subsequently how a lot their connections have developed, which might have a disorientating impact.
Merlant is especially spectacular, completely balancing Nora’s boldness and insecurity.
Audiard shoots the nudity and intercourse in a reasonably nonchalant but tender approach, leaping from tactile close-ups of pores and skin on pores and skin to avert-your-eyes nakedness within the kitchen. The traditional nature of the monotone visuals contrasts properly with the extraordinarily present-day sensibility of the script — a depressingly correct image of contemporary courting at occasions, it’s as incisive as you’d anticipate from a workforce of writers together with Portrait Of A Girl On Hearth’s Céline Sciamma. There are strong performances all spherical: Samba has mastered Camille’s swagger, and Zhang is simply the correct amount of irritating and effervescent, with a storyline involving her grandmother performed with heart-wrenching relatability. Merlant is especially spectacular, completely balancing Nora’s boldness and insecurity to make her probably the most rounded of the three protagonists.
There’s rather a lot to love about Paris, thirteenth District: the naturalistic chemistry, the split-screen and surrealist thrives, an extremely stunning but satisfying punch to somebody’s face. Hanging out with these three individuals for 105 minutes is a gorgeous, rewarding expertise, however the movie’s makes an attempt to attract in deeper, darker themes are principally unexplored. Very like Camille’s preliminary outlook on discovering a associate, it by no means fairly breaks past floor stage.