Paris, 13th District

Paris, 13th District

In the high rise buildings of the 13th arrondissement of Paris, many stories exist. Many individuals lead vivid, fragmented lives, and Jacques Audiard acquaints us with some of them through his viscerally alluring film, Paris, 13th District. Based on a screenplay written by Audiard, Céline Sciamma and Léa Mysius that is loosely based on the short comic stories by American cartoonist Adrian Tomine, Paris, 13th District is a film marked by its raw audacity and complete lack of judgement for its characters. The narrative, showcased on screen in black and white, is never afraid of revealing its own truth, as it introduces us to the characters in focus and their muddled lives and relationships.

The tale begins with Émilie, played masterfully by Lucie Zhang, and her encounter with Camille when she decides to look for a roommate while living at her grandmother’s apartment. The two find themselves in an undefined, sexual relationship, that eventually becomes a problem. Soon we meet Nora, played by Noémie Merlant, this performance adding to her brilliance as an actress post her compelling work in The Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Having decided to go back to school at the age of thirty-three, Nora finds herself in a strange predicament due to a case of mistaken identity. Her excitement of being able to see the Seine from her new apartment diminishes and she is forced to take a break from school. However, she finds herself in a complex relationship with both Camille and the person as whom she was earlier mistaken

Paris, 13th District is a tale of millennial lives and the accompanied struggles. It is an exploration of being unsure of oneself, misunderstandings, sexual liberation, unexpected relationships, love, dealing with the pains of living, and acknowledging the voids we all ultimately carry with us as we go through life. Simultaneously, the 13th District of Paris acts as the perfect canvas for these characters to find themselves and each other. Their intersecting lives unfurl beautifully amidst the fascinating topography of the 13th arrondissement. While the visual narrative is black and white, nothing is truly black and white in the lives of the young people we meet, and the film, silently and unequivocally, celebrates this complexity and chaos.

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Text Nidhi Verma
Date 24-06-2022